NET/WORK is an ongoing, multidisciplinary record of disabled life created by D. Allen from 2018-present. NET/WORK has been, and will be, a process-based performance, a durational installation, a series of movement experiments, an archive of drawings and photographs, a collection of handknit and sewn textiles, a score of voice and environmental sound, an ever-evolving film. At its heart, the work is a survival strategy for its maker. It is also an invitation for connection through our shared truth: embodiment. Although NET/WORK centers around queer, trans, disabled/chronically ill embodiment, it is a world that extends towards anyone who reaches back.
This work began as a collision of several seemingly-disparate creative modes: large-scale knitting as a way of measuring time in the presence of illness; unvarnished audio notes about my experiences as a queer & trans person living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS); sketchbook drawings of an imagined performance/installation space that would accommodate not just my physical access needs but also my desires for pleasure and comfort while performing; and videos of three short movement experiments I generated at the Mallard Island Artist Residency in summer 2018. In May 2019, with the support of a 20% Theatre Company’s Q-Stage: New Works Fellowship, I performed the first iteration of this project as an hour-long solo stage work. The performance included original audio/text, video projection, direct audience engagement, improvised movement, and an 8×8 foot handknit textile installation that I had created during the gestation period leading up to the show, which literally and symbolically supported my movement onstage.
Since its debut as a stage performance, I have continued to make work under this title across media, occasionally presenting components/materials/experiments publicly. I performed an untitled precursor of NET/WORK at Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories, curated by Xochi De La Luna, in February 2019 at Pangaea Theater; following the Q-Stage debut, I performed a new piece, Flight Experiment #1, at Squirrel Haus Arts in 2019. I have also collaborated with photographers and other performers to document and develop new material, but the project has remained largely a solo endeavor. Presently, NET/WORK includes the following textiles: an 8×8′ net knitted during a winter of deep illness; a body-sized tube with drawstrings on both ends, which takes on the form of whatever–whoever–crawls inside; a floral memory quilt made with bedsheets and table linens from the artist’s friends and family; a scrap lap blanket, knit with remnants of yarn leftover from other projects over the span of four years; and several other large-scale works in progress.