Park Nights 2021
Park Nights 2021 comprised a series of five commissions that took place in the Serpentine Pavilion 2021, designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally.
Park Nights is Serpentine’s experimental, interdisciplinary, live platform sited within the Galleries’ annual architectural commission, the Serpentine Pavilion. Since 2002, Park Nights has presented new works across art, music, film, theatre, dance, literature, philosophy, fashion and technology. Each year’s commissions are conceived in response to the Pavilion and offer audiences unique ways to experience architecture and performance. The programme has supported many artists in the early stages of their careers as well as pioneering writers and thinkers from around the world.
Devised during a period when rights to movement were restricted and the relationships to our bodies were being reconfigured, Park Nights 2021 reimagined what it means to come together, witness and share through performance. Building upon Counterspace’s Pavilion design, which is based on gathering and community spaces throughout London, Park Nights unfolded as a series of intimate encounters within this structure. Through Serpentine’s unique position in the park, the programme offered a space for practitioners to engage audiences within a live context once again.
Friday 9 July, 8pm: aga ujma
For Park Nights 2021, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer, aga ujma, presented a new performance titled ‘sun was glazed in rainbow’ based on personal stories, poems, traditional Indonesian musical pieces, and compositions inspired by the Serpentine Pavilion and its character.
Friday 16 July, 8pm: Jota Mombaça
For Park Nights 2021, Jota Mombaça presented ‘Can you sound like two thousand?’, a performative, experimental collective reading session. The piece encompassed an immersive installation in which the audience was encouraged to engage with a cacophonic reading programme designed by the artist that reflects upon the elemental agency of fire.
Friday 27 August, 8pm: John Glacier
London-born John Glacier has become an almost totemic figure within London’s underground music scene. Widely regarded as one of the UK’s most exciting and elusive talents, John’s officially released output is scarce. Despite scene-stealing features for Dean Blunt’s Babyfather project, Ragz Originale, and a handful of extremely well received online releases, her talents are somewhat of an urban legend.
Friday 17 September, 8pm: Rhea Dillon
For Park Nights 2021, Rhea Dillon presented Catgut – The Opera. Dillon’s libretto ruminates on the conditions and capaciousness of Black performance as experienced through the Black operatic. Taking its departure from The Masque of Blackness by Ben Jonson, a masque commissioned in the early 17th century by Queen Anne of Denmark, the queen consort of King James I, Catgut convenes three orators in classic soapboxing fashion. Throughout the opera’s three acts — the essay, the poem, and the poethic — Dillon denounces the idea that the Black performing artist should or could ever exist in the mundane. The performance was accompanied by sound direction by James William Blades and included an original composition by TWEAKS. Costumes designed by Jawara Alleyne.
Saturday 16 October: NO SKY with Tosh Basco
NO SKY is a durational performance by artist Tosh Basco. Named after the poem “No Sky” by Etel Adnan from her book TIME, the piece uses poetry as a portal. Performed over the course of a half-day, NO SKY was a simple mediation on Time.