A Clean Slate

Junya Ishigami’s Serpentine Pavilion acquired by spa operator Therme Group

Junya Ishigami's Serpentine Pavilion as seen from above (Iwan Baan)

Junya Ishigami’s 2019 Serpentine Pavilion has been purchased by technology firm and spa operator Therme Group, the same buyers of last year’s Frida Escobedo-designed installation. The acquisition was recently announced at the Serpentine Galleries’ Frieze Breakfast to mark the opening of Frieze London.

This year is also the second consecutive year of Serpentine’s partnership with the Therme Art Program. The program’s mission is to “broaden conversations about art, technology, and architecture” through developing and realizing large-scale art projects to be exhibited in the group’s thermal baths. The company wants to challenge the limitations of conventional exhibition spaces, something the installations have been used for before—take SelgasCano’s 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, which was repurposed into a flexible exhibition space in L.A. 

The event featured remarks by Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Mikolaj Sekutowicz, curator and CEO of the Therme Art Program. During the breakfast, Sekutowicz remarked that “It has become incredibly important to merge nature and human architecture to overcome the environmental challenges our civilization is currently facing. As a company, we are actively searching for solutions to challenges in architectural design and city planning through art,” according to a press release.  



Back in June, Therme hosted an Art and Architecture workshop series with Ishigama in the pavilion, which aimed to challenge “ideas of contemporary art and architecture emphasizing their potential in reframing the ways we plan and build our cities.” There, Ishigami explained his ‘free space’ philosophy, in which he aims to seek harmony between manmade structures and those that exist in nature. 

Obrist elaborated on this during the Frieze breakfast saying, “His gravity-defying ‘slate roof’ has welcomed thousands of visitors to the park this summer to enjoy both the space itself and the many live and experimental performances that are programmed especially for the space. It is exciting to imagine its future life in a new environment.”

Therme Group plans on exhibiting the pavilion to the public at its various resorts around the world.

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