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: “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 Serpentine’s programme which will feature the return of Park Nights, the interdisciplinary platform for live encounters in music, poetry and dance, running alongside Serpentine’s 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 year’s 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 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.