Brian Lobel (UK): Purge

Thanks to Facebook we now have the opportunity to expand our circle of friends to hundreds, even thousands of people we may only vaguely know. Social networking sites have literally rebuilt our social worlds, complete with their own etiquette and coded behaviour. For many there’s a tension between our undersanding of ’real’ friendship and social networking friendship. Which is where Brian Lobel comes in. Lobel has many, many Facebook friends, but how well does he know them? Are they actually his friends? What is a friend? Well, he wants you to decide.

In Purge, Lobel will spend one minute considering each of his Facebook friends. An audience listens to his thoughts and then votes on whether he keeps or deletes that friend. The audience’s decision is final. Lobel will continue this process for 4 hours a day for 5 days. So, let’s help him rebuild his world, who knows he may even become a friend?

Brian Lobel (UK)

Brian Lobel is a live artist whose work has been shown across the world, recieveing commissions and grants from Wellcome Trust and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Lobel is a Supported Artist at The Basement (Brighton) and an Associate Artist for Performing Medicine (London). He is a PhD candidate and Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London.

Social networking sites have, since their creation in the late 90s, created a brand new system of etiquette and, for many, a conflict between real friends and facebook/friendster/myspace/hi-5/linkedin/tagged/twitter friends. Where [facebook] friendship stops and [real] friendship begins is a question with as many different answers as their are users, a number estimated at nearly a billion people worldwide. Beyond friendship (as ubiquitous and overused a term as any), social networking sites have proven indispensable resources for businesses, political movements and artists, with individuals promoting sales, marches and gigs in equal measure and on the same ‘wall’ as pictures from drunken parties and details of break-ups. The confounding of public, private, political and professional lives into a singular location has infused spaces like Facebook with a fascination which captivates and repels individuals in dramatic ways.