Solange Just Brought One of Her Electrifying Museum Performances to the Getty. See Photos Here
The visual artist and singer-songwriter debuted her new performance over the weekend in Los Angeles.
Solange Knowles wants the art world to take her seriously. This weekend, at the Getty Center, she unveiled her latest interdisciplinary performance, part of “Bridge-s,” a two-day series of events and screenings that she organized. As the sun descended behind the museum, dancers dressed in orange, gold, brown, and taupe posed in a kind of abstract semaphore. They moved through an outdoor plaza, each abiding by their own choreography. A band, also dressed in autumn hues and scattered through the plaza (some on staircases high above the audience), played halting, jazzy sections, while Knowles’ voice flowed sweetly through the air.
The Bridge-s performance was a collaboration between the singer and legendary improvisational jazz composer Cooper-Moore, along with artist duo Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly, whose critically acclaimed Modern Living dance performance—which premiered at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut in 2016—was re-imagined for “Bridge-s.” Other elements of Knowles’s curated weekend of events included a screening of Nairobi, a short film by 19-year-old director Phillip Youmans (whose Burning Cane won the Tribeca Film Festival narrative competition this year) produced by Knowles’s production company Saint Heron; screenings of films by Phoebe Collings-James, Julie Dash, and others; and a talk with British-Ghanaian futurist Kodwo Eshun.
“Composing the music for this piece and directing it, alongside Gerard & Kelly, has been so fulfilling for me as I enter new planes as a composer and writer,” Knowles said at a preview of the performance over the previous weekend, which was attended by actor Lakeith Stanfield and musicians Tyler the Creator, Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), and Syd (The Internet). “I just thank you guys for allowing me the space to evolve and experiment and express new frontiers.”
It’s not Knowles’s first time presenting work at a museum. She previously worked with Gerard & Kelly on Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube), a video of a dance performance incorporating a large, Sol Lewitt-style cube that was screened on the Hammer Museum’s website in 2018. She presented a performative accompaniment to her 2016 album A Seat at the Table at the Guggenheim. And in 2017, she debuted her performances Seventy States at the Tate Modern and Scales at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.
And from July through October of this year, her short film, When I Get Home—a 33-minute visual accompaniment to her latest album of the same name, which was released in March—made a whirlwind tour of LACMA, the Chinati, the V&A, the Brooklyn Museum, Nasher Sculpture Centre in Dallas, MFA Houston, New Orleans Museum of Art, Perez Art Museum Miami, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA).
That film found Knowles wrangling other buzzy artworld cameos; it included animations by both Jacolby Satterwhite and Robert Pruitt, who recently had a major solo exhibition at the California African-American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles.
During a previous artist talk at the MCA Chicago in 2017, Knowles hinted at her foray into the museum world. “[I’m] interested in furthering my work in the art context when the context is right and when it feels right. Furthering it for the sake of saying, ‘I got credits at these museums’—nah,” she said.
In that same talk, she brought up her feelings about the problems black artists face in the art world.
“The art world definitely has its own set of issues, and in my opinion, there is a tonality in certain of the spaces and institutions that as a black artist you should just be happy to be here,” she said. “I’m not interested in that conversation.”
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