“What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing ballroom scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early postmoderns at Judson Church?” (Trajal Harrell)
Trajal Harrell came to prominence with the Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church series of works which theoretically juxtaposed the voguing dance tradition with that of early postmodern dance. Throughout his oeuvre, Harrell plays with the question what if…?, which allows him to rethink and understand the history and tradition of dance anew. He is now considered one of the most influential dancers and choreographers of his generation.
The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham (2021)
Trajal Harrell's epic trilogy Porca Miseria unites three women from literature and history who were dismissed and attacked and who responded to these brutal assaults with a determined mix of pride and combativeness. Medea, who was sent into exile and murdered her own children, the unapproachable and explosive Maggie from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the choreographer Katherine Dunham. In this new work Harrell brings together his memory of Dunham and the aesthetic relationship to death and ritual characteristic of butoh. African-American dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham, renowned for creating a space for African and Caribbean dance traditions and ritual on the concert dance stage, travelled the world with her own dance company in the 1940s and 50s. However, she was also an activist who went on a hunger strike against the deportation from the United States of Haitian refugees and who fought fervently for equal rights in her own country.
Dancer of the Year (2018)
The point of departure for Dancer of the Year is Harrell’s nomination as ‘Dancer of the Year’ by German Tanz magazine in 2018. The project consists of a dance solo in which Harrell focuses attention on (self-)representation. He confronts his singularity and aesthetic with the eponymous honorary title and reflects on what he means to dance and what dance means to him. Performances of Dancer of the Year will take place in the evening; the performance and the installation Dancer of The Year Shop #3 are discrete but complementary works.
Dancer of The Year Shop #3 (2022)
In Dancer of The Year Shop #3 Harrell puts his own personal items and objects from his family up for sale. He thus brings to light questions regarding origins, souvenirs and heritage; value, commerce and art; dance, theatre and exhibition. Dancer of The Year Shop #3 is part of Harrell's exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich and can be visited daily during opening hours.
Trajal Harrell’s work has been presented in many American and international venues including The Kitchen (NYC), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), Festival d’Automne (Paris), Festival d’Avignon and Panorama Festival (Rio de Janeiro) among others. He has also shown performance work in visual art contexts such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, Performa Biennial, Fondation Cartier (Paris), The New Museum (New York), The Margulies Art Warehouse (Miami), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Serralves Museum (Porto), The Barbican Centre (London), Centre Pompidou-Paris and Metz and ICA Boston.