Designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates, the Serpentine Pavilion 2022: Black Chapel draws inspiration from the architectural typologies of chapels and the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, England.
Set within Serpentine’s grounds in Kensington Gardens, Black Chapel takes on sculptural qualities as it mirrors Gates’ ongoing experimentation with fashioning clay objects in his studio practice, as well as reflecting the artist’s interest in space-making through various urban revitalisation projects. The structure’s circularity and volume echo the form of a sacred space or a chapel that protects and gathers. A single source of light coming from an oculus creates a sanctuary-like setting for reflection and conviviality as the Pavilion once again becomes a platform for live performances and public convenings throughout Serpentine’s dynamic summer programme.
Gates’ Serpentine Pavilion 2022 is part of The Question of Clay, a multi-institution project by the artist taking place in 2021 and 2022 across Whitechapel Gallery, White Cube, Serpentine and the V&A. The project seeks to investigate the making, labour and production of clay, as well its collecting history, through exhibitions, performance and live interventions. The Question of Clay aims to generate new knowledge, meaning and connections about this material.
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 nonprofit platform for art, cultural development, and neighbourhood 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 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); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); 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.