[RS Gallery] • Christopher Williams has been devoted to performing and crafting choreographic works in New York City and abroad since 1999. A curious alchemist who naturally dissolves boundaries between various art forms, he has developed a unique style that dovetails rather than eclipses experimental dance with visual art, theater, puppetry, and music.
MR: What's your personal mantra?
CW: Love and artful imagination will set us free.
What does the role of Artist mean to you?
An artist is a guide for all those who question what we should do with our time here on the planet. The seeds of the artist are present in each human mind as they naturally strive to make meaning of our existence in time. The meaning of my role lies in the unbridled expression of my singular voice among many to fulfill its part in the awesome polyphony so that all beings may hear.
What is the driving force behind your creativity?
Forces that course through me that emerge as creativity include true love, an unquenchable thirst for beauty, profound curiosity, acknowledging the great emptiness of death alongside the teeming activity of life, obsession with that which preceded our time, and an utterly wild imagination.
What transformative experiences have influenced your life and how has that manifested in your work?
Encountering other humans, friends, lovers, guides, and teachers who have given me unyielding permission to open my heart and mind even in the face of terrifying adversity has enabled me to become the artist that I am. I have been told lovingly that I am unique. I have travelled to many, many distant lands. I have been given the incredible opportunity to learn other languages and to study art and history. I have always been encouraged to seek my own way and pay little heed to those who attempt to stifle me. My work has enjoyed a sort of freedom that parallels the lifestyle I have cultivated for myself with the tools others have shared with me. When I make work I often begin with a limitless palette and hone in on an incarnation that will compliment the time and place that I am in at any given moment. A single word answer to this question would be: freedom.
How long does it take you on average to complete a piece of work, and do you ever do several pieces simultaneously?
An average of about a year would be ideal for the creation of a full work for me. Some pieces are made much more swiftly and others take longer to gestate. For choreographing and dancing a period of six months is often sufficient, but if there are to be other visual elements involved the process can be much longer for me. I very often cannot resist having a hand in the creation of all elements of a piece (including sets, puppets, costumes, lighting, and music along with the choreography), which I have learned takes time. In New York City I am often forced to work on several piece simultaneously due to the preciousness of time and resources, but I would prefer to concentrate on one work at a time generally.
Why should people check out your work?
I consider myself somewhat of an alchemist who naturally dissolves boundaries between various art forms in order to develop a unique style that dovetails rather than eclipses experimental dance with visual art, historical literature, early and contemporary music, prosthetic costume, mask, and puppetry. If you are a human who has any curiosity about the realm of the supernatural or mysterious and unexplained, then I would encourage you to check out my work. Typically my pieces attempt to hover just outside of what is natural, comfortable, familiar, or mundane. In conjunction with a profound personal passion for early art, literature, and music of many cultures, I have been making works inspired by historical wonders and curiosities that refract and re-imagine the sensibilities of lost ages in contemporary contexts. By employing a highly detailed choreographic vocabulary along with carefully stylized visual and live sonorous elements, my pieces produce an effect for observers of entering marvelously strange and fantastical new worlds. Though we are led to believe certain truths about our universe, ample ambiguous territory remains. Although I experience a peculiar nostalgia for former ages that pondered the existence of unknown loci, flora, fauna, and the supernatural, I believe that a simple continuation of the innately beautiful human impulse to explain our existence on the planet can be followed by generating innovative contemporary performance works. It is my belief that choreographic work inclusive of a variety of creatively combined elements provides both a powerful sense of vital spectacle and ritual for audiences and offers a culturally essential place where the public imagination is encouraged to soar.
How does your work affect Consciousness, and what are your views on the evolution of consciousness?
In an age during which communication across the globe has the potential to be instantaneous and facile, it is my feeling that our collective consciousness has evolved to be quite broad in some ways. Humans are simply more aware of (or bombarded by in the case of cultures who are not quite "up to speed") their relationship to one another and to the planet we are sadly monopolizing. By the same token, since there is such a facility in the sharing of information between us coupled with an unfailing trust in the exactitude of machines, I also feel that we are loosing practice in the delicate realm of imagination which in my opinion has begun to somewhat impede the evolution of our consciousness. In ages when cartographers were uncertain about how to draw the margins of the known world, I notice with hindsight a certain power of the consciousness not only to create, but to believe. To fully believe in creatures that do not apparently exist is a totally wondrous feat of our human consciousness if you ask me. Gods and godesses, fabulous beasts, daemons, angels, and a great magnitude of other spirits, faeries, and other supernatural ilk were known, revered, and even feared by entire cultures at certain times during the history of our consciousness. Vestiges of these ages of wonder and exciting uncertainty remain to the present day, but they have become veiled and marginalized as pure chimeric fantasy by the digital regime. My work in dance and all other art forms attempts to nurture and revive our uncanny ability to believe in things which lay in a liminal place between reality and our conscious imagination.