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Alan Murdock 

performance / video, U.S.A.

Alan Murdock, 2003.

Eight years of wonderfully horrible suffering earned me a BA in dance and an MA and MFA in intermedia/video-art from the University of Iowa.

As a part of my studies I performed in a wide array of productions, from highly traditional performances such as theater, modern dance, folk dance, and ballet, to performances in which I coat my body in red ceramic slip and howl while attempting to rise from the ground.

The latter is more representative of my solo work over the past several years. I am very interested in what it means to be a performer, and this kind of work seems to interrogate that theme in a more direct way than traditional means of performance do.

I am interested in the very simple ways in which we perform our lives. The word "perform" can mean anything from "carrying out one's duties," to "acting a role." It's very important to me to always remember that I am performing, in one sense of the word or another, at all times. Of course, these simple ways of performing can become incredibly complex, and that is when it becomes interesting.

When collaborating with dancers and choreographers I design projections, either slide film or video, that may be projected on the cyclorama of the theater, on screens we build, or onto the dancers themselves. I try to use content that will broaden the perspective of the events on stage in order that the performance as a whole does not solely rely on the dancers to create the entire meaning of the piece, but may enter a larger social or cultural context.

In one of these collaborations, Shouze Ma and I met when he entered the graduate dance program at the University of Iowa. We became friends through the department and each of us saw a lot of the other's work. He saw some of projections I designed for earlier collaborations and was interested in working with me. I really loved his work because it combined a huge amount of skill and training with subtlety and insight into the human condition. The opportunity arose for us to work together on a concert in collaboration with composers, sculptors, and computer-based image manipulation artists.
"Chair Dance" choreography/dance Shouze Ma, video Alan Murdock, collaborative concept. Location: Iowa City, Iowa Intermedia Live, 2001. This image of three frames shows Shouze dancing while a live videotape that I was shooting of Shouze Ma's movements, was projected on the back of the dance space.

Two stages of "Rising from Clay" by Alan Murdock, a choreographic piece which is continuously repeated, 2000-2001 Iowa City, Iowa Intermedia Studios. Video 2001.

Another work
is the performance, "Rising from Clay" where, completely covered in a redish-brown clay slip, I attempt to rise from the floor.

A stack of wood in the shape of a funeral pyre at my side, and several bags of soil are stacked against the gallery wall. In this I am attempting to juxtapose the human attempt to rise above mortality through constructing such sanitized spaces with the ancient understanding that we all die and decompose into the earth on which we live.

Another simple, almost minimalist video piece shows me approaching a series of walls, touching each wall and repeating the line, "This is a wall. I accept the challenge of this wall." This is an attempt to address and be aware of the simple things we put faith in on a daily basis. We trust the engineering of buildings to support us in the work that we do.

"This is a Wall" Video/photographic/audio documentation ongoing. Portland, Oregon 2002-03.

"Reasons for Wearing a White T-Shirt" Video, Iowa City, Iowa 2000


These three images come from a video titled "Reasons for wearing a White T-Shirt." In this video the main character is isolated to the point of not being able to function. He attempts to do several things, but each fails. He tries to shoot pool, but he can't make the choice of which shot to try for even when all the balls are lined up to go directly into each pocket. In the end the character finds that to become active in his life he must first become still through meditation.

text to go with this - what the work involved, was about, etc. Or email me the caption that went with this which was printed in Arts Dialogue, February 2002, or I will get around to this oneday.

I keep a website where I write about art, dance, and design at

  • Letter "Welcome", a performance in response to September 11th, Arts Dialogue, June 2002
  • Still from a choreographic work: "Blue", Arts Dialogue, February 2002

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