COMMUNION gathered artists and visionaries at the Serpentine Pavilion for an evening of lectures and performances exploring how art and community supports mental wellbeing.
Marking the opening of Frieze London, the Serpentine Pavilion and Therme Art hosted the transdisciplinary collaboration COMMUNION. The multi-disciplinary event drew together leading voices from across the fields of art, architecture, fashion, music, and technology to explore the importance of gathering and creative production on mental wellbeing. Designed this year by the Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, the Serpentine Pavilion served as the centre stage and catalyst for the event, which featured performances and talks by musicians including Tinie Tempah and ENNY, architect Sumayya Vally, artist Torkwase Dyson, and fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia. COMMUNION was presented by the Serpentine and Therme Art, in partnership with MYTH, and supported by MYND.
Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and Co-Founder of Therme Art
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Creative Director of Serpentine
Highlights of the evening included the release of a new track by rapper and singer Tinie Tempah and ENNY’s performance of her iconic hit song “Peng Black Girls,” which transformed Counterspace’s Pavilion into a stage that radiated themes of identity, empowerment, community, belonging, and gathering.
Panel discussions hosted by Therme Art, as part of their ongoing Wellbeing Culture Forum talks, included a conversation with Counterspace Co-Founder and architect Sumayya Vally, artist Torkwase Dyson, and Serpentine curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Moderated by journalist Yomi Adegoke, the talk illuminated the influences and creative processes of the design of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and its sound piece. The conversation also invited participants and the audience to meditate on the possibilities of architecture that is conceived to amplify the presence of multiplicity and migration in London and beyond.
Priya Ahluwalia, ENNY, Sumayya Vally and Yomi Adegoke speaking at Communion
Adegoke also moderated a discussion with ENNY, fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia, and Vally, who shared stories from past and present histories, addressing subjects that ranged from diaspora, migration, and intergenerationally, to gentrification and identity, and that paid homage to the strength and beauty of Black existence.
In between the Wellbeing Culture Forum talks, curator and art critic Daniel Birnbaum and Hans Ulrich Obrist introduced artist Carsten Höller’s digital extension of his most recent monographic exhibition at the MAAT Museum, DAY. The digital work, produced and displayed by Acute Art via their App, titled 7.8 (Reduced Reality App), augments and reduces reality through the flickering of screens at 7.8 Hz, a frequency that stimulates brain wave frequencies and may induce hallucinatory effects. Gathered at the Pavilion, guests experienced Höller’s work together as a shared art experience.
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of Serpentine Galleries
The 2021 edition of the Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens opened to the public on 11th June with smaller fragments presented across the city of London. The work illustrates the power of architecture to inspire a sense of community, identity, belonging, and gathering back into our lives. The Pavilion’s abstract, superimposing and interlaced sculptural elements reference the architecture of local restaurants, markets, bookshops, and cultural institutions that played a significant role in the vitalisation of cross-cultural communities during their migration into neighbourhoods such as Brixton, Hoxton, Hackney, Peckham, and Notting Hill, among others.
COMMUNION is part of a series of collaborations initiated by MYND and Therme Mind, a mental health and wellbeing initiative first launched at Design Miami/Basel 2021, as it supported the transdisciplinary installation Shy Synchrony by DRIFT, presented by Superblue. MYND makes pioneering neuroscience technology and findings available to leading artists for the realisation of art and cultural production encouraging mental health and wellbeing.
Tinie Tempah performing live at COMMUNION