In his choreographies, Trajal Harrell (1973, Georgia, USA) combines references from the history of dance – mainly the 1960s North American avant-garde trends – with elements and movements from other contexts and histories, such as voguing, the hoochie koochie and butoh. These bold and extremely fertile encounters reveal connections between different fields of the performing arts, as bodies, identities and voices that clash with the conventional narrative of contemporary dance gain visibility. Harrell thus constructs a unique body of work, marked precisely by this hybrid and rhizomatic character, urging the spectator to imagine alternative histories of dance.
Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (2009 - 2013), the group of pieces for which Harrell has become known, are based on two distinct scenarios of New York during the 1960s: the Judson Dance Theater, a group that performed at the Judson Memorial Church, on Washington Square, and the voguing balls of Harlem. The Judson Dance Theater, active between 1962 and 1966, brought together dancers, composers and visual artists for experiments which later culminated in the creation of what is called postmodern dance. That same period saw the rise, in Harlem, of voguing, a dance competition organized at dance balls of the Afro-American LGBT community, which appropriated the vocabulary of fashion and Hollywood. Harrell’s cycle of performances arose from a provocative question: what would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing ball scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early postmoderns at Judson Church? Or if the converse had occurred? This unlikely interchange repositions and contrasts two experiences of profound rupture from the status quo of that period: postmodern dance, in which the choreographies are often constructed based on everyday, apparently banal gestures, and voguing, marked by a baroque hyperperformativity that affirms genders and races proudly opposed to the patriarchal heteronormativity.
Dancer of the Year Shop #3 at the 34th Bienal de São Paulo
Dancer of the Year Shop #3 will be activated during the exhibition period from Thursdays to Saturdays, from 11am to noon, and from 2pm to 3 pm. At this time, those interested can ﬁnd out more about the objects.
The installation is in the form of a shop where Harrell puts up for sale personal objects of inestimable value such as family heirlooms. Questions about origins and legacy, (self)worth and the valorization of art connect the dance solo with the installation, which also represents a new chapter in Harrell’s commitment to testing the limits of his performative practice in the context of museums and exhibition spaces.
Objects in exhibition:
- Marble Head (Volakas Marble Ridged) with Mother’s Wig | DOTY | DOTY SHOP, 2018
- Marble Head (Volakas Marble Smooth) with 11838 Mother’s Wig | DOTY | DOTY SHOP, 2018
- Marble Head (Onyx) with Mother’s Wig | DOTY | DOTY SHOP, 2018
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).