Performance - Negative Liberty/Positive Liberty: The American Vicarious

Sunday, Apr 11, 2021 at 1:00pm

The Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Following-up on their most recent collaboration, Static Apnea 2020, the american vicarious and The Invisible Dog Art Center proudly present 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.”

Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty is an artistic distillation of Berlin’s lecture, in which he points out 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. 

Conceived and directed by Christopher McElroen

In collaboration with

Performers: Sarah Ellen Stephens and Olivia Gilliatt

Scenographer: Troy Hourie

Video Designer: Adam J. Thompson

Sound Designer: Andy Evan Cohen

Lighting Designer: Lucrecia Briceno

Production Manager: Neal Wilkinson

Installation build by Silvosky Studios

The Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty experience is one person at a time, and lasts approximately 8 minutes. Masks required, social distancing and all NYC guidelines in effect.

About Christopher McElroen

Christopher McElroen is a Brooklyn based media artist committed to generating artistic content, across disciplinary boundaries, that aspires to reflect on America: its ideals and realities, and that which unites and divides its people. Most recently, Christopher adapted and directed Debate: Baldwin -v- Buckley, a recreation and live broadcast of the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. Christopher created Static Apnea 2020, a performance installation exploring breath, or the lack thereof in 2020. Christopher developed Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, a music collaboration with four-time Grammy Award nominee Gerald Clayton that serves as a condemnation of years of racism and brutality in the American South. He received a Helen Hayes Award for his direction of the world premiere stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man. Alongside Paul Chan and Creative Time, Christopher co-produced and directed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a yearlong community arts initiative in post-Katrina New Orleans. Christopher had the honor of directing the world-premiere of 51st (dream) State, the final work of poet, musician and activist Sekou Sundiata. Christopher is the Founding Artistic Director of the american vicarious.


Date and Time

March 18–April 18, 2021

Thursday–Saturday: 1–7pm

Sunday: 1 – 5pm

Admission: $5 suggested donation

RSVP required

Book your ticket HERE

Only one audience member admitted for each duration

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