project image
Esther Neff

first performed on November 16, 2013
Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2013


Queens, NY


This performance was an exploration of a score I wrote for myself.

“Enter wearing fur jacket. Rip it up. Turn into an animal.”

Clothing, skin, fur, glue, paper, tape, microphone, spotlight.

I wanted to explore the divide between our daily performance of the self and the animal body; the concept of the mother; Ana Mendieta; transformation; fashion; and a human relationship to technology. I entered PPL from outside, dressed in jeans and boots and a contemporary top, with my glasses on and lipstick, in the rabbit fur coat my mother gave me a present in 8th grade, and motioned to Esther that I was ready to start.

I entered the spotlight, and preened with lipstick into the light. I hugged myself into the fur. I spoke into a microphone.

“My mother came from a generation of women who wore fur. It meant something. She was born in 1930.” I tried to set up an iPhone to record myself. I took off the fur and threw it on the ground. I started to take off my clothes. “Oh no, feminist performance art, she’s getting naked…” I mocked myself. “You sitting back there, seriously, you can move, if you want, you’re going to get a lot of ass.” I started ripping fur off the skin, little bits. I poured some Elmer’s Glue into my hands and rubbed it on my legs like shaving cream and spread the fur on, gluing fur on my legs. “I shave my legs. I shave my legs but not my armpits. I shaved today, actually, for you. I knew I was going to be naked in front of you so I shaved.” I ripped the fur into pelts, threw some pelts into the audience (“Always remember you are an animal, find your animal!”) and glued the pelts to my body. An arm of fur became a headpiece, a small tuft turned into a tail. “This is super fun. I am having such a good time right now. I feel perfect. I have been really depressed lately and I feel really good right now.” I asked if anyone wanted to come up and join me. A man came up and I cuddled him and treated him as my wolf cub. “I’m your wolf mother, I like being your wolf mother.” We rolled on the floor together. “I want to be an animal. I hate how I don’t have any real friends anymore, I hate getting obsessed with Facebook and my stupid my fucking iPhone….” I started to cry. “I want to be an animal. ROOOOWWWWL. GROOOWWRRRRRLL. GRRRRRRRRRAAAWWWWPPPPP.” Screaming and growling on all fours. “This feels transformative. Martha WIlson’s question about performance art at BiPaf this summer was about if all performance art is therapeutic….this feels good.” My time was coming to an end, I apologized if I hurt anyone’s ears, I pointing to each one, and counted them out. Forty-six people.