Negative Liberty | Positive Liberty, 2021
A Performative Installation
Presented by The American Vicarious at The Invisible Dog Arts Center, Brooklyn
Chris McElroen Creator | Director
Troy Hourie Installation Artist
David Thomson Choreographer
Adam Thompson Video Artist
Andy Evan Cohen Sound Artist
Lucrecia Briceno Lighting Artist
Performed by Sara Ellen Stephens and Oliva Gilliatt
Project description from Chris McElroen: http://www.christophermcelroen.com/negative-liberty-positive-liberty
The world premiere of Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty, a socially distanced performance installation exploring Isaiah Berlin’s historic 1958 lecture: Two Concepts of Liberty: Negative & Positive.
Berlin argues that when concepts of liberty are used rhetorically to control and repress individuals in the name of liberty itself, it will eventually, and inevitably, lead to violent conflict. In addition to Berlin’s lecture, Negative Liberty/Positive Liberty is informed in part by Anthony Barboza’s 1966 photograph, Pensacola, FL. In the photograph is an image of a broken neon sign which once read “LIBERTY”. The E is clearly broken and the R is hanging at an angle. But what if the sign isn’t broken, what if it was never completed.
Inspired by recent events (Jan 6 Capital Riot) - events that were fueled by an artificial rhetoric that eventually, and inevitably, become participatory, real and violent - a single viewer is offered an experience. In less than ten-minutes, it is delivered to them in artificial fashion. What follows is an invitation to participate; to lend the actual to the artificial, thus making the experience real and complete.
All of this is done in the name of exercising one’s Liberty…but whose?