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In Past Pupils and Smiles is the print rendering of Solange’s self-composed and directed final performance at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale de Venezia, in the Teatro alle Tese 2, Arsenale.

The happenings of November 24th 2019 are encapsulated within this hardcover highlighting the celebratory bodily movement of interpreters. This piece magnifies themes of protection, transformation and spiritual transcendence amid Venice’s flood depredations. Its photographic documentation transports readers through a deep dive in the birth of an idea coinciding with the unexpected obstacles of natural devastation.

Solange pursues an engagement with Black speculative thought by virtue of world-making. ”In Past Pupils & Smiles” meditates on the interrelations between aesthetics of the Self, the body and constructions of spatiality. We construct ourselves in relation to the spaces we imagine. It is by creating immersive landscapes that the artist expounds on Black womanhood. By reaching traditions of postmodern dance, minimalism, architecture and queer/feminist narratives; an interconnection with unrestrained presence and expression is conceived.

Solange Knowles is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and visual artist. A pioneer across the fields of music, art, and performance, Solange’s work serves as a deeply intimate portrayal of Black womanhood in the US. In 2013 Solange established Saint Heron, a multidisciplinary platform, studio, and creative agency with a mission to build spaces that engage radical conversation in thoughtful, original works that amplify vital voices and conceptual imagining across art, design, architecture, fashion, and literature. Solange’s work in music and the arts has led to her being named  2022 NYU Global Trailblazer Award for Creative and Artistic Excellence, Harvard University’s Artist of the Year in 2018. In February 2020, Solange received the inaugural Lena Horne Prize, which honored excellence at the intersection of arts and activism. Solange has conducted performance art shows across the globe including at the Sydney Opera House (2020), the 58th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (2019), The Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2019), the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany (2019), the Guggenheim Museum, NYC (2017), and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas (2017). She has exhibited video art installations at London’s Tate Modern and premiered the interdisciplinary video and dance performance piece, Metatronia, which featured Metatron’s Cube, 2018; a sculpture conceptualized and created by Solange, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Her work in other artistic mediums and music have led to a defining career of music, visual art, and activism.


Performance Programme

Solange Knowles’s performance formed part of second part of a two-part performance programme which took place during the opening and closing weekends of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale de Venezia (2019). Other participating artists were: Alex Baczynski-JenkinsboychildPaul MahekeNástio MosquitoFlorence Peake & Eve StaintonVictoria SinZadie XaVivian CaccuriCooking SectionsInvernomutoPaul Maheke, Nkisi and Ariel Efraim AshbelVivien Sansour, and Bo Zheng.


  • Publisher: Anteism
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13: 9781926968629
  • Size: 9x12”
  • Pages: 188 Pages
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