Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel By Theaster Gates

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Theaster Gates

Designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel draws inspiration from many of the architectural typologies that ground the artist’s practice.

The structure, realised with the support of Adjaye Associates, references the bottle kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, the beehive kilns of the Western United States, San Pietro and the Roman tempiettos, and traditional African structures, such as the Musgum mud huts of Cameroon, and the Kasubi Tombs of Kampala, Uganda. The Pavilion’s circularity and volume echo the sacred forms of Hungarian round churches and the ring shouts, voodoo circles and roda de capoeira witnessed in the sacred practices of the African diaspora.

Black Chapel is a site for contemplation and convening, set within the grounds of Serpentine in Kensington Gardens. The structure’s central oculus emanates a single source of light to create a sanctuary for reflection, refuge and conviviality. The project mirrors the artist’s ongoing engagement with ‘the vessel’ in his studio practice, and with space-making through his celebrated urban regeneration projects.

Drawn to the meditative environment of the Rothko Chapel – which holds fourteen paintings by American artist Mark Rothko in Houston, Texas – Gates has produced a series of new tar paintings specially for Black Chapel. Creating a space that reflects the artist’s hand and sensibilities, seven paintings hang from the interior. In these works, Gates honours his father’s craft as a roofer by using roofing strategies including torch down, a method which requires an open flame to heat material and affix it to a surface.

As part of Serpentine’s dynamic summer programme, the Pavilion becomes a platform for live performances and public convenings. An operating bronze bell – salvaged from St. Laurence, a landmark Catholic Church that once stood in Chicago’s South Side – is placed directly next to the entrance. Pointing to the erasure of spaces of convening and spiritual communion in urban communities, the historic bell will be used to call, signal and announce performances and activations at the Pavilion throughout the summer.

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

Duration 10 June 2022 - 16 October 2022
Times Tuesday - Sunday (Open Bank Holiday Mondays) 10am - 6pm
Cost free
Venue Serpentine South Gallery
Address Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA
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