Back in 2019, Solange Knowles took her talents to close out the Venice Biennale with an original performance entitled, In Past Pupils and Smiles. Self-composed and directed by Knowles, the piece explored various themes of loss, protection and identity as through music, post-modern dance and set design. As with anything she gifts us, the work was visually stunning and emotionally moving — and now those that weren't privileged enough to attend will be able to in the form of new art book.
Featuring contributions and conversations with Aaron Cezar, Chloe Wayne Sultan and Greg Bryant, the new book is set to take an in-depth look at Knowles' creative process and go behind the scenes of In Past Pupils and Smiles, following the piece from its inception to its eventual actualization. Looking to highlight the spirit and energy of the performance, Knowles' book captures the work through photography, die-cuts, set and lighting notes, and more.
“For the Venice Biennale’s first official performance programme, we spotlighted artists who are defining this and the next generation of performance," Director of Delfina Foundation and co-curator of the biennale, Aaron Cezar, says. "Solange is at the forefront of this movement of artists who understand performance not as a medium but as a way of processing the world around us. Spanning music, movement, design, and visual art, her practice breaks out of accepted categories and genres, and critically questions why these boundaries exist in the first place."
The hardcover edition also touches on the extreme flooding Venice experienced in the weeks leading up to Knowles' performance and how the natural disaster affected the final result. “I wanted mud. To dig my hands in soil. To scream. To give offerings," Solange says. "This piece gave me permission to myself to feel it all. I feel like this piece specifically was a moment of mourning, was a moment to express how much grief comes from loss, to be able to bury it and to have a service for that."
Photos courtesy of Solange
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