This week, Solange Knowles released a new interactive digital dossier, Seventy States, which coincides with Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at Tate Modern.
Following her 2016 album, A Seat at the Table, which explored black womanhood in contemporary America, Tate invited Knowles to respond to their current exhibition.
The piece incorporates exclusive unreleased performance pieces and includes an original score, We Sleep In Our Clothes. Unused excerpts from music videos for Cranes in the Sky and Don’t Touch My Hair are also included. It was done in collaboration with Carlota Guerra and was directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz. Two untitled poems and an installation by Ricardo Basbaum also feature.
Solange was inspired primarily by a photograph of Betye Saar, an artist who played an important role in the 1970s Black arts movement. From this starting point, she explored and reflected upon the themes of Black identity and the role of Black womanhood within her own work.
“There would be no hesitation should I be asked to describe myself today. I am a Black woman. A woman yes, but a Black woman first and last. Black womanhood has been at the root of my entire existence since birth.”
“During the creation of A Seat at the Table and my deeper exploration into my own identity, I experienced many different states of being, and mind throughout my journey,” she explained. “The state I so greatly wanted to experience, but that never arrived was optimism. I couldn’t answer my own question, if I had a responsibility as an artist to also express optimism in the midst of working through so much of my own healing.
“I decided to do this through a visual language. I wanted to create this language to help me to get closer to the balance I yearned to be closer to and express. I wanted to create a meditation and mediation using movement, repetition, symmetry, color theory, landscape and scenography, as my own individualised protest.”