American artist Theaster Gates unveiled his design for the 21st Serpentine Pavilion. Curated for the first time by a non-architect, the 2022 edition named Black Chapel, “will pay homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions”. Realized with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates, the pavilion will open to the public on Friday 10 June 2022, in Kensington Gardens.
Made of wood, Black Chapel “alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel”, as stated in the official release. Designed to minimize its carbon footprint and environmental impact, the 2022 Serpentine Pavilion will have a predominant lightweight and fully demountable timber structure. Aligned with the artist’s ongoing practice of space-making through urban and architectural interventions, the 2022 Serpentine Pavilion puts in place a podium for participation, live performances with an emphasis on music and public engagement. The structure will have one single source of light from an oculus in order to create a sanctuary-like environment. Moreover, it will take on an operating bell at the entrance, originating from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s South Side, to be used “to call, signal and announce performances and activations”.
Designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, the pavilion “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”.
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. -- Theaster Gates.
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. On the selection of Theaster Gates, Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director state that “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.”
Read on to discover more on Theaster Gates.
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 neighborhood 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 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 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.