Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, and visual artist, Solange Knowles, has released In Past Pupils and Smiles, a 188-page monograph reflecting on her self-composed and directed performance at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale de Venezia – a performance that was part an Art Council England commissioned series of performances that were staged within the Biennale’s official public programme in 2019, curated by Ralph Rugoff and Delfina Foundation Director Aaron Cezar.

The book provides an intimate look into the work’s birth from an idea to its final presentation on 24 November 2019 in the Teatro alle Tese, located in the Biennale’s iconic Arsenale site.

The publication features an array of behind-the-scenes and live photography of the performance, alongside conversations and reflections. Among these are a foreword by Aaron Cezar, and conversations with the band, background vocalists, costume designer, hairstylist, production team, and Solange herself.

For the Venice Biennale’s first official performance programme, we spotlighted artists who are defining this and the next generation of performance. 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.
— Aaron Cezar, Director of Delfina Foundation

The book was concepted by Saint Heron, designed in collaboration with Querida and published by Anteism. It is available to purchase Solange’s and Saint Heron’s sites.


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-Jenkins, boychild, Paul Maheke, Nástio Mosquito, Florence Peake & Eve Stainton, Victoria SinZadie Xa, Vivian Caccuri, Cooking Sections, Invernomuto, Paul Maheke, Nkisi and Ariel Efraim Ashbel, Vivien Sansour, and Bo Zheng.