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Photo by Liz Ligon

Will Rawls

Uncle Rebus

July 10 – 12, 2018

On the High Line at 17th St.

Will Rawls is a choreographer, writer, and lifelong performer based in Brooklyn, New York. His practice combines dance with other media to investigate the poetics of blackness, ambiguity, and abstraction. His inquiries into bodily experiences and humanity aim to redraw notions of power and form.

Rawls’s performance for the High Line, Uncle Rebus, is a choreographed meditation on Uncle Remus, the fictional narrator of the Southern folklore compilation, Brer Rabbit Tales. Invented by white Southern folklorist and author, Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus was a composite identity based on Harris’s account of African-American oral cultures on the plantations where Harris served as an apprentice. Manipulating a large-scale keyboard composed of removable letters, the dancers will spell out a long-form story, destabilizing the fictional dialects of Harris’s imagination, further exploring the limits of linguistic sense and written speech.

Uncle Rebus is performed by Trinity Bobo, Stanley Gambucci, and Jasmine Hearn. Costumes by Eleanor O’Connell.

Organized by Melanie Kress, High Line Art Associate Curator.

Artist bio

Will Rawls (b. 1978, Boston, Massachusetts) lives and works in New York. Rawls has presented his work at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, Oregon (2017); The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); MoMA PS1, Queens, New York (2016); ImPulsTanz, Vienna, Austria (2016); Performa 15, New York (2015); and The Chocolate Factory, New York (2013) . He is recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2017); Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (2017), and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2015). In 2016, he collaborated with Ishmael Houston-Jones to co-curate the Danspace Project Platform 2016: Lost and Found, which focused on the intergenerational impact of the AIDS epidemic on dancers, women, and people of color. For this project, he helped organize performances, reconstructions, discussions, and co-edited the catalogue Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS,Then and Now (2017). His writing has been published by Artforum, Triple Canopy, les presses du réel, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Hammer Museum.


Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support for High Line Art is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, and Charina Endowment Fund. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.