Solange Knowles Releases Preformance Art Book

“In Past Pupils and Smiles” explores sonic, visual and spiritual creativity.

Grammy-winning singer and artist Solange Knowles released a new art book, titled “In Past Pupils and Smiles.”

The book serves as a visual exploration of Solange’s self-composed and directed performance of the same name at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale de Venezia. The 188-page book gives readers a glimpse into the the creative birth and physical performance of the Nov. 24, 2019 performance, alongside an deep exploration into bonds of creative collaboration and resilience, as well as the themes of safety, protection, and identity.

The book’s cover.

The “In Past Pupils and Smiles” book was commissioned as part of the Biennale’s official public program, “Meetings on Art,” curated by Ralph Rugoff, the Artistic Director of the Biennale Arte 2019, and Aaron Cezar, Director of Delfina Foundation. The resulting monograph book is a sonic, visual, spatial, and spiritual demonstration of Solange’s’ experimentation with sound and movement.

“I wanted mud. To dig my hands in soil. To scream. To give offerings,” said Solange, who has conducted countless performance art shows through her creative agency, Saint Heron. “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.”

“For the Venice Biennale’s first official performance programme, we spotlighted artists who are defining this and the next generation of performance,” said Aaron Cezar, Director of Delfina Foundation & Co- Curator of ‘Meetings on Art.’ “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.”

From “In Past Pupils and Smiles.”

The book was designed in collaboration with Querida and published by Anteism, and it purposely mirrors the energy of the Biennale performance through negative portraiture photography, shot by James Mollison. It also features written contributions from Cezar, transcribed conversations between Solange and the writer and co-founder of Clocks – Research & Design Practice, Chloe Wayne Sultan, and musician Greg Bryant. It also contains reflective conversations from Solange’s creative team, including costume designer and stylist Kyle Luu, associate director Carlos J Soto, lighting designer John Torres, creative producer Imogene Strauss, and hair artist Virginie “Gin” Moreira.

Overall, “In Past Pupils and Smiles” details the creative process and the intimate conversations between Solange and her team during the Biennale, during both her performance and the devastating flood that occurred Biennale’s closing weekend in 2019.

The book is available online for $55, starting today.

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