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 Pavilion’s design alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel. An operating bell, originating from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s 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 artist’s ongoing practice of space-making through urban and architectural interventions. Black Chapel is the culmination of Serpentine’s 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 artist’s work across 2021-2022.
Theaster Gates said: “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. The Pavilion 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. Serpentine would also like to acknowledge the work and dedication of the late architect Richard Rogers to this yearly commission. Source and images Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries.