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Displaying the work of Matty Bovan, Casablanca, Kenneth Ize, Lecavalier, Thebe Magugu and Bethany Williams, Passage is the first short film-piece by Solange Knowles’ creative studio, Saint Heron. The dramatic short celebrates these six finalists of the 2021 International Woolmark Prize whose winner will be announced this Thursday, on the 10th of June. Created and written by Solange herself, the piece benefits from direction by the award winning Wu Tsang, styling of Ib Kamara, and an original score by Standing on The Corner.

Passage greets us by opening with a tonally contrasting drum sequence; fitting as this chiaroscuro is woven throughout the more Apollonian fragments of the film. Charting the six stages of creation (contemplation, courage, optimism, vulnerability, discipline, strength), Solange’s short moves between staged shots, natural backdrops, and the surreal. Equally as varied is the score, which is a bizarrely striking blend of piano, strings, wind, and primal yelps. The shadow-work, assorted staging, and hypnagogic score all contribute to the seemingly oppositional warmth and unease which permeate the piece.

By flowing through abstract stages and physical staging with such a dreamlike soundscape, Passage becomes the perfect vehicle to highlight the individual processes of each designer and collection. Ranging in origin from Nigeria, South Africa, London and Paris, the six finalists all work from highly diverse reference points – and it shows. Fluidly modelled by performers like Dionne Warwick, Dominique Jackson, SahBabii, Joi and KeiyaA, the six collections vary in colour, shape, and composition. To explain, we have Williams’ primary-coloured knits for social change, Casablanca’s zesty F1 inspired woollen garments, Ize’s Aso oke weaving as an example of Nigerian craft, Lecavalier’s zero-waste capes and columns, Boven’s fantastical clashing colours and prints, and finally Magugu’s powerful grass-dress forms and proverb-encrusted braille jackets. Each collection juxtaposes the next in both purpose and overall aesthetic, despite the designers corresponding to the same brief. This diversity finds its harmony in Passage which delicately balances unifying the collections and giving them space to shine as unique concepts.

Passage is undoubtedly so much more than a quick cataloguing of each finalists’ collection: Solange’s theatre piece is a total work of art. With such a distinct and talented group of designers, you won’t want to pull the wool over your eyes for this one.

Words
Lucy McLaughlin

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