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Saturday, June 10 • 11:15am - 11:40pm
Element of Danger: Accessing Disruptive Body in Dance

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The choreography of life is to problem solve. And artists are natural problem solvers. As an amateur multiply-marginalized disabled artist, I use access as a creative device to generate movement within a movement to reset aesthetic values, subvert spaces, and interrogate the imperfect practice of access. Presenting “Questionless Question" (working title), a dance performance (5 minutes) in connection with disability justice and access justice followed by brief artist talk would create an experiential session to engage attendees with these issues through movement inquiry. In lieu of a live performance, a showing of the video may also work. Attached is a link to a demo version of the dance remixed with borrowed visuals from Wolfgang Tillman’s “To look without fear” exhibit at MoMA (2022). The dance film is co-created with InShot video editor app embracing its technical glitches and digital abstraction as part of disability aesthetics.

Because there is no universally accepted critique model for disability aesthetics, disabled artists often have to self-interrogate and invent their own critique processes. As my own subject/content, my atypical body serves as a sight/site to address the ideas of beauty and physicality. I am intrigued by how atypical bodies are being viewed and culturally positioned as they navigate various public spaces. My project Stairs/Stares grew out of that framework. Stairs/Stares is a series of site-specific movement portraits of me as a bilateral amputee, without my prostheses, negotiating public staircases around NYC, while capturing the occasional stares from passersby. The work evolves from accessing movements in inaccessible place. It examines public access in real-time while commenting on stairs as an enduring architectural design providing access while creating access barriers at the same time.

The choreography for “Questionless Question” derives from Stairs/Stares. The performance is an example of disability aesthetics and offers the opportunity to learn about the creative process that goes into making movement centering on disability and access. I deconstructed my movements accessing stairs and experimented with my wheelchair. I use the wheelchair beyond its intended purpose to disrupt aesthetic values often associated with the disabled body. If I turn the wheelchair upside down, how does that affect my interaction with it? How do audiences respond to that altered relationship between a disabled person and their wheelchair? In what other ways am I challenging perceptions of disability and accessibility? The work seeks to challenge viewers to rethink how radical bodies and radical minds can contribute to our society.

In a larger scheme, access is often an afterthought in design and in practice. Instead, access should be a fundamental way of being, doing, and creating. Access centers on the interdependency of our ever-changing society to create a transformative inclusive culture. In that sense, it is an imperfect practice because it requires an ever-evolving commitment of our continual understanding of the wide spectrum of access needs and emerging identities including disabled, neurodiverse, indigenous, nonbinary, among many other complex identities and social relationships. This idea of "authentic commitment" was discussed at the public workshop, Access Check: Mapping Accessibility 2.0 at the 8th Floor hosted by the Rubin Foundation in which I was a participant. I define authentic commitment as the pairing of open lines of communication and the one’s ability to respond to access issues and understanding that they will be doing ongoing work and are also in a continual learning process. Access is a bridge to engage with communities and be part of an institution’s philosophy, guiding principle, and framework. For many disabled artists, access is the gateway to meanings, purpose and process, and the catalyst to insert ourselves into the cultural imagination.

My disability has transformed me physically, challenged me psychologically, and deepened me emotionally. Because disability identity is multi-dimensional and intersectional, it is a complex evolving relationship between loss and impairment, social restrictions, and experience. I have negotiated various physical, psychological, and cultural spaces that seek to erase me for who I am by design or through politics. I check almost every diverse category; queer, POC, immigrant, middle-aged. Now I realize the category is simply me. My movement is my biography.

1. How access informs art making process and be used as a tool to investigate implicit bias and questions assumptions.
2. How a transformative creative process challenges "afterthought" mentality that can sometimes appear in education and practice.
3. Putting imperfection into practice by leveraging technical glitches as disability aesthetics.


Saturday June 10, 2023 11:15am - 11:40pm EDT
Student Union 191 Grand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205, USA