Serpentine Pavilion Daily at 11am and 5pm until 17 October Free

“The spatial composition is inspired by a series of drawings I’m making in response to the breath. I incorporated sounds of myself making these drawing into the work to add the presence of mark making as extension of my breath.”

Torkwase Dyson’s sound commission is informed by her long-term thinking around the concept of liquidity, which offers a framework to explore artistic, political, economic and environmental concerns. Dyson began by editing archive recordings of experiences of embodied movement: bodies breathing in order to speak, sing and protest. She then layered sounds of her own breath and mark-making from her drawing practice. As breathing continues to be a political and spatial act, Dyson is specifically interested in the politics of Black bodies and their right to breathe. This is exemplified in the protest language of black music and the constraints placed upon these rights by police brutality, COVID-19 and limited access to clean air through ongoing exposure to pollution. Dyson constructs a soundscape of refusal, improvisation and precarity that moves through the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Counterspace. What she opens up through intakes of breath, textured exhalations, and suggested movement, are a myriad of potential encounters in, through and around the structure.

Torkwase Dyson

Torkwase Dyson (b. 1973, Chicago) describes herself as a painter working across multiple mediums to explore the continuity between ecology, infrastructure and architecture. Dyson’s abstract works are visual and material systems used to construct fusions of surface tension, movement, scale, real and finite space. With an emphasis on the ways black and brown bodies perceive and negotiate space as information, Dyson looks to spatial liberation strategies from historical and contemporary perspectives, seeking to uncover new understandings of the potential for more liveable geographies. Dyson received a BA from Tougaloo College in 1996, a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and MFA from Yale School of Art in painting/printmaking in 2003.She lives in New York and is represented by Pace Gallery.


Torkwase Dyson, Breathtaking: On Black Beauty and Other Necessary Indeterminacies (Spatial Test With Drawing, _001), 2021 is commissioned by Serpentine for Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace. It was curated by Rebecca Lewin and Kostas Stasinopoulos and produced by Holly Shuttleworth.

Sound commissions supported by L-Acoustics Creations, presented in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound

Back to Earth

Dyson’s sound commission is part of Back to Earth, Serpentine’s long-term project dedicated to the environment and the climate emergency presents a day-long programme of talks, workshops, sound commissions, augmented reality and publications.


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