Trajal Harrell

Trajal Harrell


Kunsthalle Zürich
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zürich

Tel: +41 (0) 44 272 15 15
Fax: +41 (0) 44 272 18 88

Kunsthalle Zürich presents three performances by Trajal Harrell, in collaboration with Schauspielhaus Zürich:

The Shop (2019), Dancer of the Year (2018) and The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham (2020), which has its world premiere on 1 April 2020, Kunsthalle Zürich

All three performances will be shown at Kunsthalle Zürich. The Shop will be accessible during our normal opening hours. For details of dates and to purchase tickets for Dancer of the Year and The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham please go to the Schauspielhaus website:

“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 important choreographers of his generation.

Dancer of the Year

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. Dancer of the Year will be part of The Shop. Performances take place in the evening, tickets, dates, and hours are here:

The Shop

In The Shop 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. The Shop is part of Harrell's exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich and can be visited daily during opening hours. It is activated by Trajal Harrell or an actor from the Schauspielhaus Zürich Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 noon to 6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 5pm.

The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham: world premiere on 1 April 2020 at Kunsthalle Zürich

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 Afro-American choreographer Katherine Dunham, not only teacher to Eartha Kitt, James Dean and Marlon Brando, but also a civil rights activist who went on hunger strike to defend refugee rights. Trajal Harrell visited Katherine Dunham on her deathbed in 2006 in New York. Based on this first and last encounter, and on the questions that Harrell failed to ask her on this occasion, he has developed a dance-performance-installation for the Kunsthalle Zürich. The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham will be the final part of Porca Miseria and will, following its world premiere in Zurich, travel around the world together with O Medea, which was premiered at the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, and with Maggie the Cat, first shown at the Manchester International Festival.

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.