Park Nights 2021
Park Nights 2021 comprises a series of five commissions that will take 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 are restricted and the relationship to our bodies are being reconfigured, Park Nights 2021 reimagines 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 will unfold as a series of intimate encounters within this structure. Through Serpentine’s unique position in the park, the programme offers a space for practitioners to engage audiences within a live context once again.
Friday 17 September, 8pm: Rhea Dillon
For Park Nights 2021, Rhea Dillon presents 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 is accompanied by sound direction by James William Blades and includes an original composition by TWEAKS. Costumes designed by Jawara Alleyne.
Rhea Dillon is an artist, writer and poet based in London. Through her practice she examines and abstracts her intrigue of the ‘rules of representation’ as a device to undermine contemporary Western culture, seeking to continually question what constitutes the ontology of Blackness versus the ontic. Recent exhibitions include Peak Gallery, London; Almine Rech, London; Drawing A Blank, Paris; External Pages, Online net artwork; Division of Labour, UK and Soft Opening, London.
Saturday 16 October, 8pm: taraxos with Tosh Basco (Tickets to be announced)
taraxos is Sophia Al-Maria’s first public artwork, recently launched at Serpentine. Al-Maria is a Qatari-American artist who lives in London. Though her work spans many disciplines including drawing, film and screenwriting for TV, it is united by a preoccupation with the power of storytelling and myth, and in particular with imagining revisionist histories and alternative futures. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally and collaboration remains a fundamental principle of her expansive practice. Al-Maria was the co-curator of the Serpentine Miracle Marathon in 2016, participated in the 2014 Extinction and 2015 Transformation Marathons and her films have been screening widely at Serpentine Cinemas and symposia, most recently as part of the General Ecology programme.
Tosh Basco’s practice encompasses performance, photography and drawing. Her improvisational movement-based work under the name boychild arose from the underground drag scene in San Francisco. She is co-founder of the collaborative entity Moved by the Motion with Wu Tsang.
Friday 9 July, 8pm: aga ujma
For Park Nights 2021, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer, aga ujma, presents 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. Conceived as a transformative movement across two chapters, the performance will shift from an intimate solo set written for sasando, an Indonesian 32-strings bamboo zither and harp, to a more expanded Javanese ensemble of intricate gamelan instruments, including bronze xylophones, gongs, rebab – a bowed fiddle – and other various traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments.
Based in London, aga ujma was recently signed to Slow Dance label and announced her debut EP ‘songs of innocence and experience’ via CLASH Magazine. Using an experimental approach to singing and composing songs, ujma mixes her classical music upbringing and folk influences from Poland with traditional music studies at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Surakarta, Central Java and SOAS University of London.
Friday 16 July, 8pm: Jota Mombaça
For Park Nights 2021, Jota Mombaça will present ‘Can you sound like two thousand?’, a performative, experimental collective reading session. The piece encompasses an immersive installation in which the audience is encouraged to engage with a cacophonic reading programme designed by the artist that reflects upon the elemental agency of fire. The session will be accompanied by a newly-devised sonic composition by Mombaça and sonic producer and researcher, Anti Ribeiro.
Jota Mombaça is an interdisciplinary artist whose work derives from poetry, critical theory, and performance. The sonic and visual matter of words plays an important role in their practice, which often relates to anti-colonial critique and gender disobedience. Through performance, visionary fiction, and situational strategies of knowledge production, they intend to rehearse the end of the world as we know it and the figuration of what comes after we dislodge the Modern-Colonial subject off its podium.
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. However, this is all due to change this summer with the release of her debut project.