Trajal Harrell: The Return of La Argentina

© Photo: Orpheas Emirzas

10/26 | 5:00 PM
Stony Island Arts Bank
6760 S Stony Island Ave, Chicago
Free Tickets
Followed by DJ set featuring Arts Bank music resident Duane Powell

With The Return of La Argentina, Trajal Harrell’s work ventures into a new realm of performativity. Drawing upon memory and invention, the performance invites the audience into a fictional archiving of butoh co-founder Kazuo Ohno’s signature work, Admiring La Argentina, as directed by other founder of butoh,Tatsumi Hijikata. Here, Harrell fictitiously remembers, stores, accounts for, forgets, registers, memorializes, ritualizes, and gives home to Ohno’s work- and essentially a new work which seeks to envisage Admiring La Argentina by abstracting with a similar verve to that Ohno and Hijikata gave to La Argentina, the stage name of the famous Spanish dancer, Antonia Merce. Perhaps one could humorously summarize it as: Harrell is voguing Ohno voguing La Argentina and/or Harrell is voguing Hijikata voguing Antonia Merce. It is all at once a departure for Harrell – bringing voguing theory and the archive together with butoh’s life among ghosts. As much for those with no prior knowledge of Ohno’s original work, the viewer’s presence becomes essential as witness and admirer as they too archive into their memories perhaps a new signature work on the imagination and our accountability for what we keep; what we choose to remember and forget; and what we are powerfully left to invent in the here and now.

L Olivier: Fashion Design Assistant to Trajal Harrell

Aram Atamian: Assistant to Trajal Harrell

In Partnership with High Concept Labs, the Department of Fashion Design at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago.

About the Artist

Trajal Harrell came to visibility with the Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church series of works which asked, “What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the ball scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early postmoderns at Judson Church?” Over the past two decades, Harrell has created a body of work that interrogates the cracks and fissures of history, drawing from the early postmodern and Japanese butoh dance traditions, kabuki theater, voguing balls, and runway movement. He recently completed a residency at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, focusing on the surreal and radical style of Tatsumi Hijikata—the founder of butoh, a form of Japanese modern dance that was especially popular in late twentieth-century. Harrell has presented his work in numerous American and International venues and festivals, such as The Kitchen, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA); Performa Biennial; The New Museum, New York, the Barbican Centre Art Gallery, London, the Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou Paris, and Panorama Festival Rio, Festival d’Avignon, Festival d’Automne in Paris, and Holland Festival.

Duane Powell is a DJ, music historian, and Rebuild Foundation's DJ In Residence and Ambassador for the Frankie Knuckles Collection. Powell got his exposure to music through the 1970’s soul music scene. He was fortunate to be classmates and friends with artists such as Minnie Riperton, The Emotions, Chaka Khan, Miki Howard, and the Staple Singers. He entered the world of street promotions and later served as marketing manager for clubs including the historic Powerhouse. In 1998, he became the import buyer for Cargo Music Distribution and was employed by Chicago’s legendary Dr. Wax records, where he spent 12 years and was responsible for breaking many artists into the market, including Ledisi, Eric Robinson, Julie Dexter, Jill Scott, Raheem Devaughn, and N’Dambi. In 1999, Powell launched the SOUNDROTATION brand which targeted underground Chicago soul artists. He also DJed Swank Society, an internet radio station. He has performed at the House of Blues, Virgin Hotel, The Promontory, and Reggie’s Music Club. Powell has opened for Frankie Beverly & The Maze and collaborated with Joe Claussell, DJ Spinna, Steve “Silk” Hurley, Maurice Joshua, Josh Milan, Timmy Regisford, and Ron Trent. Powell has spoken on the music industry at panels and conferences for the International Soul Summit, Urban Organic, I Got Soul Conference, Chicago Artist Resource, and the Chicago Cultural Center. He also served as the Soulful Sundays editor for the hip-hop blog,


You can catch Duane's soulful "Sunday Service" sets at the Stony Island Arts Bank on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of the month from 3 - 7pm, he also plays each Friday from 4pm - 7pm at AESOP, An Extended Song of Our People, the DJ booth designed by Theaster Gates at the 95th St Red Line CTA Station.

Stony Island Arts Bank - Rebuild Foundation

Rebuild Foundation is a platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation. Our projects support artists and strengthen communities by providing free arts programming, creating new cultural amenities, and developing affordable housing, studio, and live-work space.

Our mission is to demonstrate the impact of innovative, ambitious and entrepreneurial arts and cultural initiatives. Our work is informed by three core values: black people matter, black spaces matter, and black objects matter.

We leverage the power and potential of communities, buildings, and objects that others have written off.

Founded and led by artist Theaster Gates, Rebuild is part of a network of sister organizations that collaborate to extend the social engagement of Gates’ studio practice to the South Side of Chicago and beyond.