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WhatIsWhat 1.0 2003

Artist Statement


cipher session  House Dance Conference 2004  New York City


I am an interdisciplinary artist creating performance and visual art out of conceptually driven lines of inquiry. Early on I evolved a reliance on inventing in-the-moment physical movements and social engagements relating to my environment and peer group during play. In order to participate with my group in spite of my use of crutches for mobility I was pushed to a gut-response-level making of new paths. If I failed to create solutions in realtime to physically keep up, or socially shift the behavior of my peers into accepting my suggested changes that would allow my presence, I was left behind, often creating a new direction of play alone. I now, in hindsight, classify that period of my life from ages 5-12 as a period of “Creative Necessity” because it was not a creativity of choice, it was a creativity of need. This creativity had a strong physicality attached to it at a time when I was not self-aware. I grew an instinctive commitment of my body to deliver the visions of my imagination for a more optimal near future. I had no security from failure and no peer or teacher to look to for guidance. What I do now as an artist remains, at its very essence, that same task of creative problem solving with a strong focus on validity of process over outward appearances. Why I create now is to know once over the joy, satisfaction and ultimately transcendent feeling of arrival at a solution. I know the location of arrival is fleeting as another question inevitably arises. Still I seek, on miniscule and grand scales, places of arrival. Through my teaching and workshops I now share the process of using performance art as a tool of personal transformation, political activism and public engagement. I also have created multiple works for public space reacting in real time, to real events beyond my control, for a live audience. The specific movements on crutches originating in childhood play, in my adulthood, I have refined, expanded upon, infused with other cultural influences, named, categorized, documented and shared globally. Establishing a lexicon of disabled dance technique specific to crutches was personal to me but has taken on a greater social impact. Multiple disabled dancers creating work professionally who actively use my techniques and theoretical framing in their own practices reference my work as an important contribution to their processes. Making new objects and modifying existing objects to express new ideas is also critical to my work. Recently I have been fabricating video pieces that build the human body into the work making video and the body co-dependent. Without the body, there is no video. The body creates the imagery in realtime. It wears the imagery. There is no far off point from which the imagery spills all over everything. I wanted dancing the light, not playing the light onto the dance. I am still building and rebuilding to get there. That is what I do.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
This Work, Artist Statement, by Bill Shannon is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license.