Design for Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Revealed
3. February 2022
Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel designed by Theaster Gates. Design render, interior view. (Image © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio)
The Serpentine Galleries has revealed the design for the 21st Serpentine Pavilion, which will be on display in London's Kensington Gardens this summer. Black Chapel is designed by Chicago artist Theaster Gates with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates.
According to a press release from Serpentine, Gates's design for Black Chapel "[draws] inspiration from the significance of the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent," the conical brick structures now familiar to more than Brits and ceramicists thanks to the Great Pottery Throw Down being filmed there. Gates's Black Chapel (also the name of a 2020 exhibition at Haus der Kunst in Munich) will be circular and feature an oculus, but instead of brick it will be made of wood. It is meant to allude to "the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel," per the press release. Fittingly, a bell from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago's South Side, where Gates and his Rebuild Foundation have restored old buildings for cultural purposes, will sit next to the pavilion and be rung to announce live performances taking place in the Black Chapel.
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 (Photo © Sara Pooley)
The selection of Gates is a bit of an anomaly for the Serpentine Pavilion, considering that, even with an education in urban planning and a predilection for urban and architectural interventions, he is an artist, not an architect. The twenty previous pavilions, including last year's design by Counterspace and Junya Ishigami's iteration two years earlier, were designed by young architects who had not previously realized buildings in the UK. Although Gates, at 48, is young by architect standards, is not from Great Britain, and is working on the architectural/urban Canning Dock project in Liverpool with Asif Khan Architects, it appears Gates is designing the 2022 pavilion out of timing as much as other considerations: 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 realize a multi-venue London presentation The Question of Clay of the artist’s work across 2021-2022," per the press release.
Black Chapel will be on display in London's Kensington Gardens from June 10 – October 16, 2022.