Today, plans were revealed for Black Chapel, the 21st Serpentine Pavilion designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. Black Chapel is realised with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates and will open to the public on Friday 10 June 2022 with Goldman Sachs supporting the annual project for the eighth consecutive year.
Drawing inspiration from the significance of the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, the Pavilion will pay homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions. While the structure of the Pavilion will predominantly be made of wood, the Pavilions design alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel. An operating bell, originating from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicagos South Side, will be placed next to the entrance of the Pavilion and will be used to call, signal and announce performances and activations. A single source of light from an oculus will create a sanctuary-like environment for reflection and communion. Conceived as a platform for participation, live performances, with an emphasis on music and public engagement, Black Chapel will continue the artists ongoing practice of space-making through urban and architectural interventions.
Black Chapel is the culmination of Serpentines collaboration with London art institutions and galleries The Victoria and Albert Museum, Whitechapel Gallery and White Cube, to realise a multi-venue London presentation, The Question of Clay, of the artists work across 2021-2022.
Theaster Gates said: The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice. It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives. Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude. I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and/or deep participation.
Reflecting on his oeuvre, the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates shares the same title as a commission Gates received in 2019, from the late museum director and curator Okwui Enwezor to activate the central atrium of museum Haus der Kunst, Munich, originally built for the Nazi Regime. This project was an attempt to bring Black spiritual life to the museum.
Throughout the Summer, the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 will become a platform for Serpentines programme which will feature the return of Park Nights, the interdisciplinary platform for live encounters in music, poetry and dance, running alongside Serpentines Education and Civic activations including Family Workshops and Community Day.
Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, said:
We are honoured to undertake this remarkable project with leading visual artist Theaster Gates. One of the most significant voices working today, Gates praxis combines formalism, conceptualism and powerful impact felt throughout the communities in which he works and beyond. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Black Chapel as a platform for engagement, spirituality and togetherness.
This years Pavilion selection was made by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CEO Bettina Korek, Director of Construction and Special Projects Julie Burnell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice Yesomi Umolu, and Project Curator Natalia Grabowska together with advisors Sir David Adjaye OBE and David Glover.
The Pavilion will be designed to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact, in line with Serpentines sustainability policy. The predominantly timber structure will be light-weight and fully demountable, with a focus on sustainably-sourced materials and the reusability of the structure as a whole after its time installed at Serpentine. While the Pavilion begins its life in Kensington Gardens, it will be re-sited to a permanent location in the future.
Serpentine would also like to acknowledge the work and dedication of the late architect Richard Rogers to this yearly commission. Rogers was an integral part of the Serpentine Pavilion team and served as an Advisor since 2017.
Theaster Gates (b. 1973) creates works that engage with space theory, land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, the artist redeems spaces that have been left behind. His work contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise, one defined by collective desire, artistic agency and the tactics of a pragmatist.
In 2010, Gates created the Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit platform for art, cultural development and neighbourhood transformation that supports artists and strengthens communities through free arts programming and innovative cultural amenities on Chicagos South Side.
Gates has exhibited and performed at The Victoria and Albert Museum (2021), London, UK; Whitechapel Gallery (2013 and 2021), London, UK; Tate Liverpool, UK (2020); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020); Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis (2019); Palais de Tokyo Paris, France (2019); Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany (2018); Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2018); National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA (2017); Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2016); Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2016); Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2013) and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012).
Gates is the twelfth recipient of the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts (2021). In 2020, Gates received the Crystal Award for his leadership in creating sustainable communities. He was the winner of the Artes Mundi 6 Prize and a recipient of the Légion d'Honneur in 2017. He was awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture 2018, as well as the Urban Land Institutes J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and serves as the Senior Advisor for Cultural Innovation and Advisor to the Dean at the Harris School of Public Policy.