Black Chapel from Theaster Gates is the 21st Serpentine Pavilion - FAD Magazine

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Black Chapel from Theaster Gates is the 21st Serpentine Pavilion

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo Mark Westall

The 21st Serpentine PavilionBlack Chapel, designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates opens this week on Friday 10th June 2022. Black Chapel is realised with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates with Goldman Sachs supporting the annual project for the eighth consecutive year. Conceived as a space for gathering, meditation and participation, with an emphasis on sacred music, Black Chapel becomes a platform for Serpentine’s live programme throughout the summer and beyond, offering reflection, connection and joy to the public.

To mark the opening of the Pavilion, Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye OBE will be in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist on 8th June 2022, which will explore their work in art, architecture, urbanism and space-making. Book here

Black Chapel, the 21st Serpentine Pavilion:

Black Chapel draws inspiration from many of the architectural typologies that ground the artist’s practice. The structure references the bottle kilns of Stoke-on-Trent in England, the beehive kilns of the Western United States, San Pietro and the Roman tempiettos and traditional African building structures such as the Musgum mud huts of Cameroon and the Kasabi Tombs of Kampala, Uganda.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo Mark Westall

Drawn to the transcendental environment of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, Gates has produced a series of new tar paintings, especially for Black Chapel.  Determined to create a space that reflects the artist’s hand and sensibilities, seven panels hang from the interior structure. In these works, Gates honours his father’s craft as a roofer and uses roofing strategies and torch down, which requires an open flame to heat the material and affix it to the surface.

Theaster Gates at the opening of the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo Mark Westall

An operating bronze bell, salvaged from St. Laurence, a landmark Catholic Church that once stood in Chicago’s South Side, stands next to the entrance of the Pavilion. Underscoring the erasure of spaces for convening and spiritual communion in urban communities, the historic bell acts as a call to assembly, congregation and contemplation throughout the summer’s events.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine.

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 deep participation.”

The Serpentine Pavilion 2022 is open every day from 10am to 6pm. serpentinegalleries.org/serpentine-pavilion-2022-black-chapel-by-theaster-gates/

Gates’ Serpentine Pavilion 2022: Black Chapel follows The Question of Clay, a multi-institution project featuring exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery (September 2021 – January 2022), White Cube (September – October 2021) and a two-year long research project at the V&A.

Highlights of the Programme include:

Responding to Gates’ multidisciplinary practice using space, architecture, sculpture and material, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice, Serpentine, Yesomi Umolu and Guest Curator Bianca A. Manu have programmed live events in dialogue with Gates’ ambition to activate the Pavilion with artistic explorations of the monastic.

Exploring sound and song through layered pianos, stripped-back beats and studio experimentation, The Vernon Spring, a solo adventure of composer and producer Sam Beste will play improvised and contemplative minimalist expressions on Saturday 11 June. Each reflective reverberation takes advantage of the Pavilion acoustics while spotlighting the endless experimental possibilities of the sound of the piano.

In July, audiences will also be able to listen to some of London’s most acclaimed ensemble singers from The Choir of London Oratory, directed by Patrick Russill, the UK’s senior professional Catholic church choir. The Choir of the London Oratory will hallow the chapel with select music from major Roman Catholic liturgies. Internationally renowned as leading exponents of music from the Latin tradition the London Oratory Choir will perform an eclectic tribute, drawn from Gregorian chant and classical polyphony for feasts throughout the year, ranging from deep meditation to brilliant jubilation, and covering a millennium of creativity in sacred music. Keiko Uchida, a qualified Japanese tea ceremony master invites visitors to listen as she orates the history and philosophy of Japanese tea culture that initially developed as a Zen ritual in the 15th century as she performs the traditional meditative ritual while offering the audience a cup of matcha tea.

In August, highlights will also include multi-award winning and 2020 Mercury Music Prize shortlisted British jazz drummer, composer, record producer, bandleader and radio host Moses Boyd, who will perform a selection of musical pieces, bringing his progressive Jazz sound to Serpentine. Hailed as one of the hottest talents of contemporary British Jazz, Boyd will take centre stage offering an experimental solo drum set inspired by his debut album, Dark Matter. In recognition of Gates’ investigation into the making, labour and production of sculpture throughout his artistic practice, South London based community pottery studio Mud Gang Pottery C.I.C will offer workshops to children, families and anyone interested in clay in September.The multidisciplinary programme of events will culminate in October with performances by two-times GRAMMY award-winning singer and songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, and The Black Monks, Gates’ ensemble of musicians and singers rooted in southern musical traditions and eastern monastic traditions.

Serpentine’s Summer programme will also see the return of Park Nights, the interdisciplinary platform for live encounters in music, poetry and dance, running alongside activations by Serpentine Education and Civic. With further details announced soon, Park Nights 2022 will include performances by musician and composer Roscoe Mitchell. This performance is presented in partnership with the London Contemporary Music Festival and Wigmore Hall. Poet and musician Linton Kwesi Johnson, artist and filmmaker Josiane M.H. Pozi among other participants will also feature in the programme.

About the artist

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 Chicago’s 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 Center, 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 Institute’s 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. Gates is currently included in A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi from April 9 – September 11, 2022; and in STILL ALIVE, featured at Aichi Triennale, Tokoname, Japan from July 30 – October 10, 2022.

Serpentine Pavilion

This pioneering commission, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has presented the first UK structures by some of the biggest names in international architecture. In recent years it has grown into a highly anticipated showcase for emerging talents, from last year’s Sumayya Vally, Counterspace (South Africa), the youngest architect to be commissioned, and Frida Escobedo (Mexico), to Diébédo Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso) and Bjarke Ingels (Denmark), whose 2016 Pavilion was the most visited architectural and design exhibition in the world. The Serpentine Pavilion 2022 follows previous commissions by Olafur Eliasson with Kjetil Thorsen, 2006, and Ai Weiwei with Herzog & de Meuron, 2012, among other cultural figures.

Black Chapel will be designed to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact, in line with Serpentine’s 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.

In 2021, the Pavilion programme evolved beyond its physical location for the first time and expanded with a series of Fragments placed across London. It also saw the launch of Support Structures for Support Structures, a fellowship programme initiated by Sumayya Vally, Counterspace, and Serpentine’s Civic Team, that supports up to ten artists and collectives working at the intersection of art, spatial politics and community practice.

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.



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