73 Juta Street Braamfontein Johannesburg South Africa, 2000
Johannesburg: 26.2041° S, 28.0473° E London: 51.5072° N, 0.1276°
“this is a small gesture towards honouring the elders and the origins of the resistance movements associated to Notting Hill.” - Sumayya Vally
Sunday 28 - Monday 29, August 2022
Sumayya Vally and London-based artist Alvaro Barrington unveil a publicly accessible pavilion on Great Western Road that reflects the history and stories of Notting Hill along with its “mythologies, rituals, repositories of identity and legacies of hybridisation”, say the pair.
The project grew from Sound System Sundays at The Tabernacle venue last year in Notting Hill. Host to a fragment of the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Sumayya Vally, Counterspace, which offers additional seating and can be used as a stage for small performances—the live programme explored Counterspace’s interest in the history and architecture of sound systems in the UK and featured six sound systems selected with artist Alvaro Barrington, director of Notting Hill Carnival Matthew Phillip.
Barrington says: “When I saw Sumayya’s pavilion at the Serpentine last year [summer pavilion commission] I was so moved. There was a way people engaged with it. It felt truly open and I immediately wanted to work with Sumayya so I asked her if she would help me figure out this project for carnival.” They started talking about the overlaps in their research and interest in “places of belonging and forms of community and the ways in which these places facilitated cultural production”.
Drawing on significant historical research sites of ‘gathering’ where ‘hybrid identities’ have been forged in contested districts/territories/spaces, Vally’s 2021 Serpentine Pavilion was a response to the historical erasure and scarcity of informal community spaces across the city. Paying homage to existing and lost spaces of gathering and belonging—the everyday spaces—that have held communities over time and continue to do so today, the forms in the Pavilion are a result of abstracting, superimposing and splicing elements from architectures that vary in scales of intimacy.
Vally, whose practice remains centred around amplifying and collaborating with multiple and diverse voices from many different histories; with an interest in themes of identity, community, belonging and gathering, says “this is a small gesture (or offering) towards honouring the elders of Notting Hill and the origins of the resistance movements associated to Notting Hill. This project also takes the form of a procession, a structure which comes together in parts”. Community members will place the final pieces of the pyramid-shaped pavilion—seen as a work in progress—to make it complete. “This project is so much about the process. There will be seating for some of the Notting Hill elders to be able to watch the procession happening. We’re also thinking about it as a kind of stage. We want to enter into it sensitively,” she says.
Barrington, who was born in Venezuela, has long been fascinated by carnival. “There is a long history of carnivals in modern art history, like Ernst Kirchner and his relationship to colour.” The pavilion also touches upon migration, which “is an interesting conversation because it also includes the exchange of ideas”, Barrington says. A diasporic aspect also underpins the project, drawing on characters and places associated with carnival beyond Notting Hill. Barrington adds: “Carnival is one of the most complete sites of artistic creation that exists. There has unfortunately been some economic challenges in order for carnival to continue to be an artistic practice. There are many financial hurdles people have to overcome and when you’re up against financial burdens, you take less risk.”
A trust founded by Barrington will fund the pavilion project. “A section of my paintings are about carnival; we take a section of profits from the painting and put it towards a community trust. After engaging with many members of the community, we figure out how that money can be used. This is one of the ways in which it’s being used. Creative culture tends to reproduce a 1% winner takes all model—basically one or two individuals get accredited for what often counts as a community effort,” he says.