Endurance Performance Proposition #4 (#freebritney, 2020-21)

Endurance Performance Propositions are performance scores that re-perform iconic cultural artifacts under endurance or duration, to explore how such material is rooted in our bodies and psyches–from the virulent racism and perverse eroticism embedded in every chase scene ever made (EPP #1, Birth of a Nation, 1916), to the river of Jewish mother-wit running under stand-up comedy (EPP #2, Lenny Bruce Live at Carnegie Hall, 1961).

In EPP #4 (#freebritney, 2020-21), I’m exploring the Instagram dance videos of Britney Spears by re-performing them with the assistance of two video screens. I perform each Instagram video 10 times in a row before moving on to the next one.

The videos were shot, presumably by Spears, in her home during quarantine. Her improvisations reveal how circumscribed she is as a performer: confined to an outdated persona with a limited palette of physical movement in constant eye contact with the camera. Her body is both highly trained and strains against aging. The videos are extensively, if somewhat clumsily, edited. I’ve added claps to heighten the awareness of the edits, providing gaps so the viewer and performer can feel what’s missing.

These dance videos reveal a performer who has become a living document of over 25 years of very specific labor, to wit: enacting a specific infantilized sexual persona as entertainment.

They also reveal a woman taking back some measure of control over her means of production.


Performed at OPaF / Part of “Parasocial”, curated by Lion Eyes (Jane O’Neill) in August 2021, and as a work in progress showing at UNC Chapel Hill, February 2022.