SWANS LAKELESS is an intermedia composition woven from lived experience, myth, and narrative poetry. The work addresses the intersections of gender identity from a disability justice lens on police abuse while offering imaginatives upon the interrelationships between shame, violence, masculinity and marginalization. These exist in disjointed harmony with the protagonist’s earnest and necessary explorations of radical empathy, self-healing, and a quest for transformative justice. The story uses an actual false-arrest experienced by Shannon Lumpkin as an initiatory point for creativity, expanding upon real-life events to create a fantasy world where one asks: Could an abolitionist police choir exist? How can we inspire a militarized force to give up violence for song?
The live stream performance uses the empty Roulette theatre, NYC to stage Swans Lakeless as live interaction with fixed media. From 2019–2021, the collaborators worked in parallel processes to develop the sound world, poetry, and visual terrain of the piece by compiling source footage, musical performance footage, and Shannon Lumpkin’s solo performances for camera. Confined to England due to the pandemic, Dawn Felicia Knox projected the video source material onto non-traditional surfaces intercepted by fields of coloured light in the Star & Shadow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The resultant work is an intermedia composition of the evolving installation, inhabited through Anastasia Clarke’s music and sound, which unfolds Shannon Lumpkin’s poetry.