The Serpentine Gallery is opening again, a welcome announcement after the closures required under regulations for the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are pleased to open our doors once again”, say Hans Ulrich Obrist and Bettina Korek, artistic director and CEO of the Serpentine Gallery, announcing that the exhibition spaces of the Serpentine Gallery will be opening to the public again on May 19 with two exhibitions: a major retrospective of the work of British-Ghanian photographer James Barnor and the first solo exhibition outside the US by New York painter Jennifer Packer. “After more than a year of uncertainty, separation and loss, we have a renewed perspective on the arts institution as a site for connection and discovery.”. The renewed perspective announced by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Bettina Korek will also include the gallery’s annual architecture programme. “This summer's Serpentine Pavilion will be the first constructed in our new world, and the 20th since the initiative's founding in 2000. Come join us in the galleries and in the park - we have missed you!”.
For the first time since its foundation in the year 2000, the Serpentine Pavilion has been entrusted to the same architectural studio for two years in a row: Counterspace, the Johannesburg studio directed by architect Sumayya Vally, was first appointed in 2020. Following the suspension of cultural activities to contain the spread of the pandemic, resulting in closure of the 2020 Pavilion, the South African studio was asked to build the 2021 Pavilion, which will be open to the public starting on June 11.
Counterspace’s Serpentine Pavilion is the result of an operation of synthesis and representation of spaces and places in London. Architect Sumayya Vally reports that the pavilion will be the result of a process of addition and subtraction, overlapping and joining of architectural forms created using both innovative construction techniques and traditional local techniques. The forms of the pavilion will be inspired by places, manufactures and spaces in the city of London, in particular those tied to migrant communities and to the city’s outskirts, such as the boroughs of Brixton, Edgware Road, Barking and Dagenham, and Hoxton.
"We’ve always relied on places of gathering to come together and we miss them when they’re gone", says architect Sumayya Vally of the project, "COVID-19 has brought the Pavilion themes of community and gathering sharply into focus. The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the Pavilion’s sojourn. These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of London’s identity. The breaks, gradients and distinctions in colour and texture between different parts of the Pavilion make this reconstruction and piecing together legible at a glance. As an object, experienced through movement, it has continuity and consistency, but difference and variation are embedded into the essential gesture at every turn.”
Materials of different types, both low-tech and high technological efficiency, a variety of forms and finishes, and the memory of various different parts of the city all flow together into the Serpentine Pavilion to create spaces where people can gather to enjoy the calendar of summer events at the Serpentine Gallery.
Images courtesy of Serpentine Gallery
Project: Serpentine Pavilion 2021
Design: Counterspace ( Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar) https://counterspace-studio.com/
Location: London, UK
Date: 11 June – 11 October 2020
01. Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Exterior View © Counterspace
02. Drum Cover Girl, Erlin Ibreck, at Trafalgar Square, London. 1966. Courtesy Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière
03. Serpentine Pavilion 2020 designed by Counterspace, Design Render, Interior View © Counterspace
04. Transfiguration (He’s No Saint), 2017 Oil on canvas 182.8 x 91.4 cm 72 x 36 inches Collection of Igor DaCosta and James Rondeau Photo: Jason Wyche