Therme Group is supporting Black Chapel, the Serpentine Pavilion of 2022, designed by Theaster Gates with Adjaye Associates throughout its full life cycle. This marks the fourth consecutive year of partnership between Serpentine and Therme. The partners’ ongoing collaboration explores the bonds that link art, architecture and forms of creative expression with outlets that encourage wellbeing in unconventional ways, such as their co-curated Wellbeing Culture Forum talks programme.
Robert C. Hanea, Therme Group’s Founder and CEO commented:
“The Serpentine’s annual architectural programme is a lighthouse that concurrently illuminates what is visionary and urgent in architecture and for the future wellbeing of cities and urban environments. For Therme Group, this initiative serves as a catalyst for continuous learning and ongoing inspiration that is directly influencing our urban development projects worldwide.”
Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and Co-Founder of Therme Art stated:
“Therme Art was founded to support the realisation of visionary projects that align architecture and urban planning to the body, mind and soul. Our recently launched mental health initiative is focusing on the responsibility of artists, architects and creatives to generate healthy and nurturing environments. We would like to thank Serpentine Gallery, Bettina Korek, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, for welcoming Theme Art to participate in bringing Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel to life and inspiring all of us towards building a city of peace, contemplation and healing.”
Black Chapel draws its inspiration from the historic great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, paying homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions. Primarily crafted of wood, the Pavilion’s design alludes to the performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel. A bell from the demolished St. Laurence Church on Chicago’s South Side will be placed next to the entrance of the Pavilion and used to call, signal, and announce performances and activations. A single source of light from an oculus will create a sanctuary-like environment for reflection and communion. Conceived as a platform for participation, and performances, with an emphasis on music and public engagement, Black Chapel extends the artist’s practice of space-making through vernacular urban and architectural interventions.
Theaster Gates said:
“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.”
Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, said:
“We are honoured to undertake this remarkable project with leading visual artist Theaster Gates. One of the most significant voices working today, Gates’s praxis combines formalism, conceptualism and powerful impact felt throughout the communities in which he works and beyond. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Black Chapel as a platform for engagement, spirituality and togetherness.”
Throughout the Summer, the 2022 Pavilion will become a platform for Serpentine’s programme which will feature the return of Park Nights, the interdisciplinary platform for live encounters in music, poetry, dance, and the Serpentine’s Education and Civic activations, including Family Workshops and Community Day.
The Pavilion is being designed to minimise its carbon footprint and environmental impact, in line with Serpentine’s and Therme Group’s sustainability policies. The predominantly timber structure will be lightweight and fully demountable, with a focus on sustainably sourced materials and the reusability of the structure after its time at Serpentine. Black Chapel, together with previous pavilions Therme Art has partnered on, will be re-sited to a permanent location in the future.
Four Years of Partnership
Therme Group has previously supported Serpentine Pavilions designed by Sumayya Vally and her studio Counterspace (2021), Junya Ishigami (2019) and Frida Escobedo (2018). Therme Art partnered in the activation of each of these architectural spaces through the conceptualisation and organisation of innovative events. As well as this, Therme Art has commissioned projects that provided platforms for cross-disciplinary exchange and innovative thinking and ones that sought to foster wellbeing through the arts.
In 2021, Therme Art presented performances by Tinie Tempah and ENNY in partnership with Serpentine and MYTH at the Counterspace-designed Pavilion timed to Frieze. In conjunction with that event, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Mikolaj Sekutowicz co-curated a series of Wellbeing Culture Forum talks featuring Sumayya Vally, Torkwase Dyson, Yomi Adegoke and Priya Ahluwalia, that built upon the Pavilion’s themes of gathering and belonging and that furthered conversations on how art and community can support mental wellbeing.
Hero image: Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel designed by Theaster Gates. Design render, interior view. © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio, courtesy: Serpentine