• In the Horizontal Plane: taisha paggett performance works
    Jaime Shearn Coan, Tara Aisha Willis, and taisha paggett
    Malik Gaines, Aisha Sasha John, Anna Martine Whitehead, and Kim Zumpfe
    Soberscove Press, 2024
    Soberscove Press

taisha paggett, Installation view of "i believe in echoes," Audio Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver 2018. Courtesy taisha paggett. Photo: Blaine Campbell

In the Horizontal Plane: taisha paggett performance works is a book project by scholars Jaime Shearn Coan and Tara Aisha Willis and dance artist taisha paggett that challenges conventional modes of writing and archiving dance practices through a collective engagement with paggett’s 25-year oeuvre of solo and collaborative works. paggett’s practice reconfigures western choreographic practices through the politics of daily life, interrupting fixed histories of Black and queer living, and intervening in architectural spaces through interdisciplinary installation and performance. Similarly, the book’s experimental archiving and writing practices intervene in typical modes of summarizing an artist’s career by centering Black bodily and spatial practices, and looking not only into the past, but forming a critical, collaborative conversation in the present towards potential futures. Assembling performance documentation, ephemera, and reprinted texts alongside new writing, the book explores paggett’s unique solo and collaborative engagements with place, body, built environment, and movement through space.

taisha paggett is an interdisciplinary dance artist whose individual and collaborative works rearticulate and collide specific Western choreographic practices with the politics of daily life in order to interrogate fixed notions of Black and queer embodiment, desire, and survival. Such works include the dance company project, WXPT (we are the paper, we are the trees), and the School for the Movement of the Technicolor People, both of which seek to radicalize questions held within contemporary dance. Their work has been presented at Audain Art Museum, Vancouver; Commonwealth and Council, Hammer Museum, and LACE, Los Angeles; Danspace Project, The Studio Museum, and The Whitney Museum, New York; Defibrillator Gallery, Chicago; DiverseWorks, Houston; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. paggett was the 2019 recipient of Merce Cunningham Award through the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and is an associate professor in dance at University of California, Riverside.

Jaime Shearn Coan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice (ISGRJ) at Rutgers University, in affiliation with the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Department. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY/Lenapehoking. From 2020–22, Shearn Coan was the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at ONE Archives Foundation in Los Angeles. Shearn Coan received his PhD in English from The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). His dissertation, “Corporeal Archives of HIV/AIDS: The Performance of Relation,” was supported by a 2019–20 CUNY Dissertation Fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NYPL). His writing has appeared in publications including TDR: The Drama Review, Critical Correspondence, The Brooklyn Rail, Movement Research Performance Journal, Gulf Coast, On Curating, and Women & Performance. He is the coeditor of Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now (2016) and Marking the Occasion (2020).

Tara Aisha Willis is a dancer, writer, and curator. She served as curator of performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from 2017–23. She holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University. Willis’s research for a forthcoming book focuses on contemporary practices of improvisation and experimentation in Black dance performances. She was coeditor of a special 2016 issue of The Black Scholar and the book Marking the Occasion (Wendy's Subway, 2021); and her writing appears in Blondell Cummings: Dance as Moving Pictures (Getty Research Institute/X Artists' Books, 2022), Craft & Conceptual Art: Reshaping the Legacy of Artists’ Books (Center for Book Arts, 2023), and Dancing on the Third Coast: Chicago Dance Histories (University of Illinois Press, 2023). Willis performed in a collaboration between Will Rawls and Claudia Rankine (2016–21) which traveled nationally to six venues including Danspace Project, Walker Art Center, and REDCAT; and in The Skeleton Architecture’s 2016 “Bessie” Award-winning performance.

Soberscove Press is a Chicago-based independent publisher of books about art and culture. Soberscove was founded by Julia Klein in 2009 with a focus on making art historical materials accessible to a non-specialist audience; this concern continues in the books we publish today and has expanded to include cultural materials that fall outside of the realm of art history. Soberscove books tend to explore modes and functions of documentation, engage with process, and connect historical themes and issues to the present. We produce many of our books in collaboration with artists.