Solange Knowles: musician, activist, disciple of a minimalist sculptor from the 1970s. The singer who first brought her arty Scales performance to the Guggenheim in New York this spring recently brought it to the Chinati Weekend, where she sang in the middle of a Texan field, in and amongst public artworks by Donald Judd.
Solange explained on Instagram how influential Judd’s 15 untitled works (1980-1984) have been on her own music. “Donald Judd’s work has had such profound influence on the way I view the world,” she wrote. “Judd’s philosophy that the art takes on the space it exist in, has resonated with me to the core, and his radical practices of building your own institution, is what has pulled me back to make the pilgrimage to Marfa.”
Her performance took place in front of Judd’s symmetrically lined-up concrete cubes. There was one request from Solange: all audience members had to wear all white. Line-ups started forming two hours before the sunset concert and the audience of 900 was asked to file through the field in two neighbouring lines. At the end of a 45-minute walk, Solange performed with a group of 40 musicians and dancers dressed in matching magenta pink outfits. Sister Beyoncé, brother-in-law Jay-Z and a crowd of art worlders watched her play a number of songs off her latest album, A Seat at the Table, including Mad, Weary and F.U.B.U.
Judd established the Chinati Foundation in 1986, turning a former military base into an art museum showing his own work and the works of other artists, like Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and Richard Long. Judd’s pared-down approach to industrial materials was a target for criticism in his heyday, with many dismissing his work as too simple and lacking depth. But he’s gained in popularity in recent years, helped by the presence of the Marfa site, the Judd Foundation at 101 Spring Street in New York’s Soho and now a high profile fan in Solange.
“Judd’s philosophies on symmetry, space, shapes and light have had so much impact on my own work,” said Solange. “I have so much gratitude for those who have traveled near and far to experience this piece.”