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Culture / Entertainment

Solange Makes Houston the Star in Her Buzzy Hometown Movie Premiere

A Cutting Edge Homage to H-Town Shows That Beyonce's Little Sister is More Than All Grown Up

BY // 07.18.19

Solange Knowles — singer, songwriter, polymath musician — came to Houston Wednesday night. In her own abstract, artistic way, that is.

The musical force of nature debuted the extended director’s cut of her experimental, interdisciplinary film, When I Get Home, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in two separate, back-to-back screenings for a one-night-only event.

Solange lit up the screen, shimmying in crystallized fringe, dancing against the backdrop of The Rothko Chapel, belting out her songs as an animation, smiling and giggling in never-before-seen webcam footage with her friends.

It was the first time anyone in the world had seen the extended film, which adds an extra eight new scenes and musical arrangements to the original 33-minute version that dropped on Apple Music in March.

Solange’s Big Premiere

Soon, Solange’s movie will tour fine arts museums and contemporary art institutions across the world.

What better place for a premiere than her hometown? After all, she described the cutting-edge piece of performance art as “A Texas Film” on Twitter.

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And that it is — a glorious homage to Houston, full of regional hip-hop references and black cowboys riding horses down the streets of her familiar Third Ward.

when i get home cowboy hat
Solange reconnected with her roots.

Solange directed and edited the mixed-media film, a compelling, elaborately choreographed companion to the 19-track album of the same name.

Her husband Alan Ferguson, and Terence Nance, Jacolby Satterwhite and Ray Tintori played roles as contributing directors.

“When I was younger I would fear what the people called the Holy Spirit and what it would do to the men and women around me. I never wanted it to catch me, and was terrified on how it might transform me if it did! Much of this film is a surrendering to that fear. After a really tough health year and the loss of the body that I once knew, the film is an innovation for that same spirit to manifest through me and the work I want to continue to create,” Solange says in a statement.

The music provides the backdrop, sometimes in sync with the action and at others an unexpected synthesis. In that way, it’s clear that When I Get Home the film is no mere visual accompaniment to her fourth album.

At certain moments, Solange dances to the beat in a black cut-out blazer, spinning a black cowboy hat on her finger.

The color palette is stark — black, white, silver and brown, shown in skyscrapers, pantyhose, thigh-high snakeskin boots, the curve of a makeshift rodeo arena constructed out in the Marfa plains.

There’s an immense amount to unpack: A group of black-clad dancers march between a fleet of gleaming white DeLoreans. A piece of surreal animation by Satterwhite shows figures dancing into flames, falling into dust and then re-emerging as fat rain drops fall. A futuristic engineer in a silver bikini welding what must be the motherboard to a spaceship before dragging it, with considerable effort, through the desert.

Through it all, Space City abounds. Solange references several empowering artists from the Third Ward, with tracks titled for streets in The Bayou City.

A sample from poet Pat Parker’s work “Poem to Ann #2” opens up “Exit Scott (interlude).”

A piece of Phylicia Rashad — actress and daughter of Pulitzer Prize-nominated artist Vivian Ayers — reciting her mother’s poem “On Status” appears in “S McGregor (interlude).

Then, there’s “Binz,” “Almeda” and “Beltway” — almost a roadmap of Solange’s childhood.

At one point, literal directions to Prairie View flash on screen, snippets of dialogue saying “You’ll be fine down there,” and discussing the dreaded distance between the mysterious Point A and Point B.

This extended director’s cut will makes its way through the United States before spreading through Europe, with no telling yet if it will hit Apple Music like its predecessor.

But whether it’s screened in Dallas or London, Chicago or Marfa, there will always be a piece of Houston in the show.

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