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Solange: Certain Art Institutions Imply That ‘As a Black Artist You Should Just Be Happy to Be There’

The cover of Solange’s 2016 album, A Seat at the Table.

SAINT RECORDS/COLUMBIA

In a talk with writer Britt Julious at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago earlier tonight, the musician and, more recently, performance artist Solange, who has performed in museums including the Guggenheim in New York, had some harsh words for certain unnamed art institutions.

“The art world definitely has its own set of issues, and in my opinion there is a tonality in certain of the spaces and institutions that as a black artist you should just be happy to be here,” Solange said, adding, “I’m not interested in that conversation.”

The artist went on to say that that she is “interested in furthering my work in the art context when the context is right and when it feels right. Furthering it for the sake of saying, ‘I got credits at these museums’—nah.”

Tickets for the talk went on sale last last month and sold out in just 15 seconds, according to the organizers. The evening conversation was the latest in a series of projects that Solange has staged in the visual art world, which have included an interactive piece she released with Tate Modern a few weeks ago in conjunction with its “Soul of a Nation” show.

Next month, Solange will perform in Marfa, Texas, at the Chinati Foundation, which was established by minimalist sculptor Donald Judd and which houses many of his sculptures. During tonight’s talk, she discussed her admiration for Judd’s art and her excitement for her upcoming event.

However, early in the talk she said that she and her husband “had a really scary encounter with the police in Marfa, Texas, of all places.” While not discussing the incident in detail, she said, “We know a lot of people in Marfa—artists and creatives. Everyone was, I think, kind of embarrassed that it happened.”

This is not the first time Solange has been critical of arts organizations. Shortly after her performance at the Guggenheim last year, she put out a since-deleted tweet in which, according to Artnet News, she wrote, “I don’t care much about the institutions,” and encouraged women of color to “tear the got damn walls down.”

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