As Holiday navigates the depths of Black remembrance and loss, she sets her sights on the relationship between “the new” and “the archival.” She treats both entities as collectively improvising ensembles in which prose and poetry sit by turns comfortable and chaotic, next to images cribbed from Black artistic and private life. Text on Harmony Holiday’s film God’s Suicide, commissioned for the Hammer’s 2021 biennial Made in L.A. 2020: a version, The Hammer at UCLA and the Huntington
Harmony Holiday, writer, poet, archivist, dancer, choreographer, and experimental filmmaker, asks “What is an adequate venue for Black performance? What is the best version of a venue?” For this very special Tuesday Evenings presentation, “The Club,” Holiday centers Ornette Coleman’s Caravan of Dreams and his move from it through a series of clubs and performance spaces looking for where, as the American writer and poet Henry Dumas put it, the circle is unbroken. Using a concert of voices and recordings on this theme, Holiday tells the story of the place and displacement that is venue-making.
Holiday earned a BA in rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA at Columbia University. She is the author of Negro League Baseball (2011), winner of the Fence Books Motherwell Prize; Go Find your Father/A Famous Blues (Ricochet Editions, 2013), a “dos-a-dos” book featuring poetry, letters, and essays; and Hollywood Forever (Fence Books, 2017), which she is turning into an afroballet. A biography of Abbey Lincoln is forthcoming, and the epic M a á f , an exploration of reparations and the body, was released this year (Fence). Holiday has taught dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and is the founder of Mythscience, an arts collective devoted to cross-disciplinary work that helps artists re-engage with their bodies and the physical world in this so-called digital age, and the Afrosonics archive of jazz and everyday diaspora poetics. In 2013, she was awarded a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles.