PERFORMANCE — Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church takes a new critical position on postmodern dance aesthetics emanating from the Judson Church period. By developing his own work as an imaginary meeting between the aesthetics of Judson and those of a parallel historical tradition, that of Voguing, Trajal Harrell re-writes the minimalism and neutrality of post-modern dance with a new set of signs.
What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing ball scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early post-moderns at Judson Church?" is the central question in this piece by the choreographer. Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church comes in eight sizes: extra small (XS); small (S); medium (M)imosa - in collaboration with Cecilia Bengolea, Francois Chaignaud, and Marlene Monteiro Freitas; Antigone junior (jr.); Antigone junior ++ (Plus); Antigone Sr. (L); Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure) and a yet-to-be-released (XL) publication. Rather than illustrating a historical fiction, these new works transplant the proposition into a contemporary context. What we experience was neither possible at The Balls nor at Judson, but a third thing is created, here and now.
In the case of Antigone Sr., the (L), Trajal Harrell wishes to re-imagine the classical theater of ancient Greece. Is it possible that voguing and this theater of antiquity were not so far apart in their performative strategies? It is easy today when we see men performing as women to classify these forms as drag, camp, travesty, or to base our conclusions on notions of sexual identity; but sexual identities in Ancient Greece did not fall into the categories we prescribe today. Therefore, perhaps this performance of mixing genders had it’s own codes and references. Can we imagine that there was 'Greek Theater realness' where like voguing, gender and class or social status were revealed as constructions of codes of fashion and movement? It is also easy to forget through layers of classical interpretations that the theater of antiquity was a intrinsically political theater whose purpose was to educate and potentially problematize the important responsibility bore by the citizens of Athens (all men).