Dorothy Iannone: COS x Serpentine Park Nights

Pioneering feminist artist Dorothy Iannone reflects on her latest work, produced for the first COS x Serpentine Park Night of 2018

In the sixties, I started making my ‘People’ – some hundred wooden cut-out figures. At first I took images from my paintings, which led to cut-outs of my friends, figures from old masters, pop musicians, circus people and movie stars – until I couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to make. It took almost half a century before I returned to my cut-outs; this time the ‘Movie People’ with their stories of unconditional love, or of risking everything for the possibility of happiness. I then developed this old format with a short text that tells the stories of the figures and why they had inspired me.

Last year, Hans Ulrich Obrist, who has interviewed me many times over the past decade, invited me to participate in the Park Nights programme, but because of other commitments I was unable to accept. This year when the invitation was renewed, I was happy to say “Yes!” and was able to continue to develop ‘Movie People’ further. 

Dorothy Iannone, Mother And Child, 1980, Gouache on Bristol board, 78 x 63 cm © All rights reserved. Private collection, courtesy Air de Paris, Paris.

The integration of painted image with text and sound, or with filmed images, has always been part of my work and I’m glad to have now been able to introduce sound to this, the progeny of my silent ‘Movie People’ cut-outs of several years ago, and perhaps to have taken a first step towards a new form in my oeuvre (or at least, to have dreamt of it).

As never before with this project, teamwork has been of the utmost importance. I have learned so much from this experience, and I feel so grateful to my old co-workers for their assistance, and delight in my new professional friends at the Serpentine. I hope the audience will remember the work with a smile, and that I have communicated what cannot be communicated in any other way than what I have presented in the ‘Movie People Perpetual Performance.’

Park Nights – staged within the unique Serpentine Pavilion in the heart of Hyde Park – is an experimental programme of live performances by compelling multidisciplinary artists from across art, architecture, music, film, philosophy and technology. At COS we are constantly inspired by the worlds of art and design, and for us it is an honour to support the Serpentine Galleries’ public performance series for a sixth year this summer.  

Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is the youngest architect so far to accept the invitation to design the pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery lawn and we are excited to see Park Nights come alive in what she has created. Her pavilion has focused on the subtle interplay of light, water and geometry, creating an atmospheric courtyard which draws on Mexican architecture and British materials and history, specifically the Prime Meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

– Karin Gustafsson, COS creative director

Dorothy Iannone’s performance will take place on Friday 13 July. COS x Serpentine Park Nights 2018 runs on selected nights throughout the summer. For more information please click here.

Francis Kéré’s Minimal Shapes

 As the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion opens to the public, Port takes a look at the man behind this year’s commission and his journey from the villages of Burkina Faso to the gardens of Hyde Park

“Fundamental to my architecture is a sense of openness,” Diébédo Francis Kéré has said. This year, the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkina Faso becomes the first African architect of the annual Serpentine Pavilion, unveiled every summer in Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park. 

Inspired by a tree used as a common meeting point in his hometown, Kéré has designed an airy pavilion with an expansive roof that mimics a tree’s canopy; open while offering shelter against both rain and summer heat. Kéré has described his design as a community structure and a simple shelter that he hopes will create a sense of freedom and friendliness among visitors.

52-year-old Kéré was born in the small West African town of Gando, where constructing buildings was a community activity. He found himself unable to concentrate in school as he was drawn to thoughts on how he could transform structures to allow for more space, air, and light. “I was fascinated by how the raw clay from the earth could transform and become something that shapes space.” 

Kéré has consistently been aware of the presence of light in his buildings as fundamental in “showing the presence of energy.” By carefully studying the presence of light, the buildings he designs respond to weather conditions, protecting against sunlight or creating surfaces that light can enter through and reflect. “This is how architecture becomes dynamic like nature,” he explains.

He was the first child in his village allowed to attend school despite other residents deeming Western education unnecessary. After school he was awarded an apprenticeship in Germany, afterwards training at the Technical University of Berlin. While studying, he formed the Kéré Foundation to fund the building of Gando Primary School which earned him the Aga Khan award in 2001, and, since establishing his own practice in 2005, he has gone on to receive many other prestigious architecture awards. 

Kéré repeatedly returns to his roots for inspiration and has undertaken a number of projects in Gando, developing a primary school, the school library and a secondary school. Fascinated by natural materials, there is a significant relationship to nature running through Kéré’s architecture. His projects also put a strong emphasis on energy and the climate he is designing for, whether in Africa or Europe. “It is important to introduce structures that embrace natural ventilation and daylight not only for under-developed areas but also for places like London.”

The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Kéré Architecture is open until 8 October