PROPOSAL for Convent dels Àngels
Judson Church Is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure) /Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church
artist: Trajal Harrell


Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at The Judson Church is a series of works that examine two very different kinds of dance, both with roots in 1960s New York: Postmodern dance from the Judson Church–period, with its formalism and minimalism, and voguing, a flamboyant and performative dance competition that appropriates fashion vocabulary. By developing a new critical position with respect to these two aesthetic traditions—and proposing a series of imaginary meetings between them—Trajal Harrell rewrites the minimalism and neutrality of postmodern dance with a new set of signs.

The iteration proposed for the Convent dels Àngels, Judson Church Is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure) / Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, is the custom-made size in Harrell’s series. In this “made-to-measure” iteration, the proposition is reversed from its usual geographic trajectory. Instead of a voguer coming downtown to Judson Church, the proposition goes: “What would have happened if one of the early postmoderns from Judson Church had gone uptown to perform in Harlem’s voguing ballroom scene?” Rather than illustrating a historical fiction, Harrell creates a third possibility, something neither possible at the Balls nor at Judson Church, but only in the contemporary here and now.

This work for three dancers combines the contrasting styles of postmodern dance and voguing, repositioning the influence of jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues on improvisation in early postmodern dance. Likewise, aesthetic and social discourses are transformed when postmodern dance’s pedestrian vocabulary of sitting and standing is reimagined in the context of a Judson Church gathering in Harlem. By using the inherent contrasts in these two aesthetics as well as the forms embedded in African American church services, Harrell generates a surprising and innovative experience in the continuum and spirit of early American dance. This series of works groundbreakingly marks the return of high drama and emotion in contemporary dance after the conceptual movement.

Estimated running time: 50 minutes

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Touring History

Museums & Galleries:
Palais De Tokyo, Paris, France
Barbican Centre Visual Art Gallery, London, England
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California
PS1 MoMA, New York, NY
Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Kitchen, New York, NY

Theaters & Festivals: 
Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, Canada
Festival de la Cité, Lausanne, Switzerland
DNK, Sofia, Bulgaria
American Dance Festival, Durham, North Carolina
Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany
Onaissis Cultural Center, Athens, Greece
Dampfzentrale, Bern, Switzerland
Bouge B, deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Theater L'Usine, Geneva, Switzerland
IMPULSTANZ Festival, Vienna, Austria
TanzimAugust, Berlin, Germany
TBA Festival, Portland, Oregon
Danspace Project, New York, NY


Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church In Barcelona:
Antic Teatre + Mercat de les flors + Sala Hiroshima


Selected Press + Further Reading


Artist Bio

Trajal Harrell came to visibility with the Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church series of works which theoretically juxtaposed the voguing dance tradition with the early postmodern dance tradition. He is now considered as one of the most important choreographers of his generation.

Trajal Harrell’s work has been presented in many American and international venues including The Kitchen (NYC), New York Live Arts, TBA Festival (Portland), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), American Realness Festival, ICA Boston, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, LA’s RedCat Theater, Festival d’Automne (Paris), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Festival d’Avignon, Impulstanz (Vienna), TanzimAugust (Berlin), and Panorama Festival (Rio de Janeiro) among others. He has also shown performance work in visual art contexts such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, Perfoma 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, ICA Boston and Art Basel-Miami Beach.

His work Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure)/Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (M2M), has the distinction of being the first dance commission of MoMA PS1. He has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship; The Doris Duke Impact Award, a Bessie Award for Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (L); as well as fellowships from The Foundation for Contemporary Art, Art Matters, and the Saison Foundation, among others.

In 2016, he completed a two-year Annenberg Residency at MoMA, where he has turned his attention to the work of the Japanese founder of butoh dance, Tatsumi Hijikata. By looking at butoh through voguing's theoretical lens of "realness" and modern dance through the theoretical lens of butoh, Harrell is creating a number of works which combine a speculative view of history and the archive with contemporary dance practice and composition. He has created Used Abused and Hung Out to Dry, premiered and commissioned by MoMA in February 2013; The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai premiered in Montpellier Danse Festival in July 2015; The Return of La Argentina premiered in Paris’ Centre National de la Danse and commissioned by MoMA; In the Mood for Frankie premiered in May 2016 at MoMA; Caen Amour premiered at Festival Avignon 2016; and Juliet and Romeo produced by Munich Kammerspiele.

Most recently, he has become well-known for Hoochie Koochie, the first survey (1999-2016) and performance exhibition of his work, presented by the Barbican Centre Art Gallery in London during July-August 2017.

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