Therme Art Program

Wellbeing Culture Forum | COMMUNION at the 20th Serpentine Pavilion

Therme Art presents In Conversation: The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and Community and Belonging Through the Lens of Creative Practice during Frieze Week London 2021 to discuss the importance of gathering and creative production on mental health and wellbeing.

Marking the opening of Frieze Week London 2021, the Serpentine Pavilion, MYTH and Therme Art, enabled by MYND, the recent mental health initiative created through a joint venture between Therme and neuroscience pioneer MindMaze, hosted the transdisciplinary event COMMUNION, featuring live musical performances by Tinie Tempah and ENNY, as well as Wellbeing Culture Forum talks with Yomi Adegoke, Sumayya Vally, Torkwase Dyson, Priya Ahluwalia, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Mikolaj Sekutowicz.

The first talk, In Conversation: The 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, moderated by journalist Yomi Adegoke, brought together Counterspace Co-Founder and architect of the 20th Serpentine Pavilion Sumayya Vally,  Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, and artist Torkwase Dyson in a discussion that illuminated the influences and creative processes behind the design of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and its related sound piece by Dyson. The talk also provided space to meditate on what is possible when architecture is utilised to amplify the presence of multiplicity and migration in London and beyond.

From left: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sumayya Vally, Torkwase Dyson, Yomi Adegoke

In speaking of architecture’s influence on social dynamics, Sumayya Vally stated, “There’s a lack of acknowledgement about how intertwined architecture and social forces are, and how architecture is a crystallisation of social forces. So, seeing a misalignment between the two is not really a misalignment, but, proof that architecture, for the most part and in most cities and places in the world, has been used as a force for separating people. For me, it is a way forward to become more conscious about the intent and level of responsibility that we hold as architects, as spatial practitioners, creatives and people who exist in this world.”  

From left: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sumayya Vally

Hans Ulrich Obrist remarked, “As you can see, there are no doors in this pavilion. That means that many people who encounter it do so by chance while on a walk, when they come to the park. There can be encounters with people who would have never visited an architecture exhibition otherwise. It is in that sense a very free, open structure. But Sumayya took it to the next level, because for the first time, the pavilion does not only invite everybody to see and experience it, but actually, Sumayya took the pavilion to the people from many different communities.”  

Sumayya Vally, Torkwase Dyson

“Maybe the imperative in a functioning society is to realise, even when things are separate or fragmented or compartmentalized and not connected, that just because you’re not connected to something else, doesn’t mean that that place doesn’t have its own centre, right?” shared Torkwase Dyson. “Maybe the idea of autonomy and semi-autonomy has respect. And if you then build connections that create networks, what then has respect is to create those through-ways with gentility and without harm. So maybe that’s a functioning society: to respect autonomy, semi-autonomy and to create through-ways that are without harm.”

The second talk, Community and Belonging Through the Lens of Creative Practice, featured musician and rapper ENNY and fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia alongside Sumayya Vally and Torkwase Dyson, who shared stories from past and present histories, addressing subjects that ranged from diaspora, migration, and intergenerationally, to gentrification and identity, and that inform each of the artists’ work.

From left: Priya Ahluwalia, ENNY, Sumayya Vally and Yomi Adegoke

Priya Ahluwalia shared, “I’m constantly looking at what happens to us as people, as we go from generation to generation moving around the world—there’s a loss of culture, there’s a gain of culture, there’s a loss of language, there’s as a gain of language. And even looking at my own family history, I’m from two different places in the world. And if my mom and dad didn’t go to a nightclub in the 90s, I wouldn’t be here. So I like to think about all these funny, quirky things, as well, that happens with it—and it really does feed all my work.”

“It’s like a dichotomy of culture, or a hybrid. So you’re like Nigerian because your house is Nigerian, but when you’re outside it’s different. And so it’s just kind of merging both of those cultures to make something different, but also understanding that home is both places at the end of the day, and just kind of keeping that same identity,” shared ENNY.

From left: Priya Ahluwalia, ENNY, Sumayya Vally and Yomi Adegoke

Sumayya Vally reflected on architecture’s role in creating a sense of belonging, expressing: “I am so interested in forms of ritual and the atmospheres that they create and how those engender belonging—because we all are born into architecture, and subconsciously, it also affirms our place in the world and it tells us who we are and how we need to be treated or how we are recognised.


Panelists:

Enny, Singer and Rapper
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director Serpentine
Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO and Curator of Therme Art
Priya Ahluwalia, Creative Director Ahluwalia
Sumayya Vally, Architect and Founder of Counterspace
Torkwase Dyson, Artist

Moderation:

Yomi Adegoke, Journalist


COMMUNION was presented by the Serpentine and Therme Art in partnership with MYTH, and was supported by MYND, Therme Art’s latest art and neurotechnology initiative.

 

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