The 21st Serpentine Pavilion, Black Chapel, designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates will open on 10 June 2022. Black Chapel is realised with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates with Goldman Sachs supporting the annual project for the eighth consecutive year.
The opening of Black Chapel will kickstart a full season of creative and participatory events including experimental musical performances, sonic interventions, clay workshops, a panel discussion and a Japanese tea ceremony. Conceived as a space for gathering, meditation and participation, with an emphasis on sacred music, Black Chapel will become a platform for Serpentine’s live programme throughout the summer and beyond, offering reflection, connection and joy to the public.
Responding to Gates' multidisciplinary practice using space, architecture, sculpture and material, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice, Serpentine, Yesomi Umolu and Guest Curator Bianca A. Manu have programmed live events in dialogue with Gates' ambition to activate the Pavilion with artistic explorations of the monastic.
Drawn to the transcendental environment of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, Gates has produced a series of new tar works especially for Black Chapel. Determined to create a space that reflects the artist’s hand and sensibilities, seven panels hang from the interior structure. In these works, Gates honours his father’s craft as a roofer and uses roofing strategies and torch down, which requires an open flame to heat the material and affix it to the surface.
An operating bronze bell, salvaged from St. Laurence, a landmark Catholic Church that once stood in Chicago’s South Side, will stand next to the entrance of the Pavilion. Underscoring the erasure of spaces for convening and spiritual communion in urban communities, the historic bell will act as a call to assembly, congregation and contemplation throughout the summer’s events.