Theaster Gates, the first non-architect to be chosen for the Serpentine Pavilion Commission, unveils the community-focused ‘Black Chapel’

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The 21st Serpentine Pavilion designed by artist Theaster Gates will open to the public in London on Friday. Gates is the first non-architect to be awarded the estimable commission, although it was executed with the help of architect David Adjaye and his associates. The pavilion’s debut will kick off a summer of programming that includes musical performances, workshops and other events clustered around the project.

Title Black Chapel, the black cylindrical building is an ode to the artist’s late father, who was a roofer, and also draws inspiration from an array of architectural and artistic touchstones including the Rothko Chapel in Houston, the bottles that mark the industrial landscape of Stoke-on-Trent in England, the mud huts of Musgum in Cameroon and the circular chapels of San Pietro.

Inside, an oculus allows light to stream into the cavernous space, which is adorned with seven of Gates’ tar paintings, in another homage to his father’s work.

Outside stands a bronze bell that the artist salvaged from the site of St. Laurence Catholic Church, which was once a landmark in Chicago’s South End, home of the Gates’ Rebuild Foundation. The bell “acts as a call to assembly, congregation, and contemplation” while serving as a reminder of the widespread obliteration of these community sites and the people they served.

“The name Black Chapel is significant because it reflects the unseen parts of my artistic practice,” Gates said in a statement. “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 during this time there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude.

See more pictures of black chapel below.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio.  Photo: Iwan Baan.  Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio.  Photo: Iwan Baan.  Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio.  Photo: Iwan Baan.  Courtesy: Serpentine.

Serpentine Pavilion 2022 designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine.

Theater doors.  © Rankin Photography.

Theater doors. © Rankin Photography.

The Serpentine Pavilion is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 10 through October 16.

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