Theaster Gates’s Serpentine Pavilion will be the Black Chapel

Celebrating manufacturing and the ‘invisible parts’ of his artistic practice

Artist Theaster Gates has revealed his design for the 2022 Serpentine Pavilion which pays homage to ‘sacred arts’, manufacturing and spirituality through its chapel-like design.

Dubbed Black Chapel, the structure takes inspiration from the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent’s pottery industry and alludes to the spiritual, community and performative qualities of a small chapel.

Says Gates: ‘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.’

Design render, © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio

The Chicago-based artist is known for his social practice, reviving defunct buildings in the South Side as community spaces, as well as his ceramics practice, which draws on African American imagery, activism, craftmanship and archival materials as recurrent themes.

Gates will work in collaboration with Adjaye Associates to realise the pavilion, which will mostly be built from wood will feature a ribbed domed roof with an oculus opening, which will be the only source of light into the sanctuary.

A bell from Chicago’s now-demolished St Laurence Church on the South Side will be transported to the entrance of the Black Chapel. It will be rung to announce the commencement of events, music performances and talks at the pavilion, which is slated to open on-site at Kensington Gardens on 10 June 2022.

Photography: © Sara Pooley

Read more about Theaster Gates’ social practice:

Theaster Gates gives a new beat to a bombed-out Bristol church

Inside Theaster Gates’s revived Stony Island Arts Bank

See Theaster Gates’s immersive intervention ‘Black Image Corporation’



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