The Knowles sisters had a busy weekend. The day before Beyoncé blew away the crowds at Coachella, her younger sister Solange premiered a new video of a performance art piece at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The work, a record of a performance that exists primarily as a video but also as a sculptural stage contraption, is titled “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube)” (2018), and for now lives exclusively on the Hammer’s website. This summer, the sculpture Solange created for the piece, “Metatron’s Cube” (2018) — an all-white stage of sorts that’s equal parts MC Escher, James Turrell, and Sol LeWitt — will travel to locations throughout the US, though a publicist for the project could not confirm when or where it might turn up.
The performance features more than 50 dancers moving in and around pristine white platforms and Solange’s sculptural set in a verdant landscape, to the tune of a minimalist score she co-wrote with John Kirby. The dancers’ synchronized and sequenced movements (choreographed by Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly) are more on par with contemporary dance than any conventional music video, while the score is similarly atypical, evoking Philip Glass rather than anything off Solange’s most recent album, 2016’s gentle yet powerful A Seat at the Table. Though the whole production is very much in keeping with her aesthetic of clean geometric lines and mono- or duo-chromatic palettes, Solange neither appears nor is heard in the video.
As for the large-scale sculpture that is the video’s set and centerpiece, “Metatron’s Cube,” Solange suggests it may mark the beginnings of a new body of work.
“I’m excited about transitioning into creating larger scale works that have the duality of existing as part of a performance and then as a standalone sculpture that can be engaged with by the public,” she said in a statement. “It was important to me to make the piece modular so that it can be quickly assembled in different landscapes allowing people to have individual interactions and experiences.” Friday’s premiere of “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube)” (a partnership with Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo) was followed by a conversation between Solange and Hammer Museum assistant curator Erin Christovale.
“I think Solange’s piece offers a visual and sonic space for meditation, peace, and hopefulness, which is a crucial counterpart to the images we often see of black bodies and other bodies of color in our current political climate,” Christovale told Hyperallergic. “I also think she is challenging the associations we have with minimalism, in inserting her concepts into a space that is often associated with artists such as Donald Judd, Frank Stella, or Sol Lewitt. I’m excited to see how she continues her artistic trajectory in thinking holistically about what it means to be an artist and exploring all avenues of her practice, including dance, performance, music and now sculpture.”
This new performance-video-sculpture may be Solange’s most ambitious art project to date, but it’s hardly her first. In May of last year she staged an arresting piece titled An Ode To at the Guggenheim Museum, which expanded her latest album into an evening-long performance. Last summer she showed Seventy States, a series of performances and projections, at Tate Modern; and in the fall, she staged a performance piece titled “Scales” (2017) at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.
Solange’s “Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube)” (2018) premiered at the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California) on Friday, April 13, and is currently exclusively on view on the museum’s website.