Title:
Slip (Frame Biennial), Rebecca Jensen
Author:
Anador Walsh
Date:
29.09.23

Caution! Slippery and wet

Contemporary existence is characterised by technology, surveillance and climate change. This is something I’m acutely aware of, and yet, I don’t feel I have a clear grasp of any of these things. Do you? I know more definitively about the American opioid epidemic than I do about the above, largely due to there being too much noise and contradiction. The world is ending in a blaze of fire and most of us (read: everyone but billionaires) are flailing in the murky waters of techno-neocapitalism. There’s a current of inequality and precarity wrapped around our ankles, dragging us ever closer to the waterfall’s edge of techno-neofeudalism and dystopia. I can feel it, but I don’t have a firm handle of the why or the how. I don’t even remember getting in the water.

Rebecca Jensen’s Slip situates itself in these waters and even begins with a video of a waterfall being played on an iPhone. Slip premiered as a 20-minute vignette in the 2022 Keir Choreographic Award and showed in its expanded version at Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre from 1 – 5 March 2023 as part of FRAME: A biennial of dance. In Slip, Jensen is joined onstage by collaborator, musician Aviva Endean, in a duet that plays with the sound effect technique foley. Foley is employed in films to create a heightened sense of “realism”, but in this work Endean’s soundtracking of Jensen’s movements borders on the absurd. The humour that’s derived from this, forces us to contemplate the lunacy of our present moment of rampant disinformation and the factors that underlie it.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

In They Are Oblivious to the Violence of Their Acts. Windows, Screens and Pictorial Gestures in Troubled Times, art historian Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev surmises that philosopher Theodor W. Adorno’s “…message was fundamentally that capitalism is grounded in the ability of power to produce stupidity and lack of independent critical thinking.”1 This is a no frills take on a philosophical stance I heavily identify with. Every day I wake up and check my emails and multiple social media and news platforms before getting out of bed. This is a process I repeat countless times a day without thinking and multiple times a week I contribute to this glut of information, through the creation and dissemination of digital content about my personal and professional life. I am so immersed in this constant stream of information, that my weekly “screen time” averages ten hours per day and fact, fiction, the news, the personal, performance theory, pop culture, art history, meme and TikTok conspiracy have all blurred into one. In this blur, critical distance feels impossible, memory becomes slippery and we are all unreliable narrators.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

In Slip, Jensen cleverly articulates this through a choreographic phantasmagoria of “six second ideas”, accompanied by Endean’s use of foley.2 The iPhone waterfall moment, live soundtracked by Endean, is interrupted by Jensen falling through the theatre’s curtains onto a blue gym mat. She is dressed in a green, medieval dress, her hair braided around her head like a crown and topped with a white wimple. Jensen then tumbles over herself to centre stage, where, her gaze fixed on the audience, she interacts with objects pulled one-by-one from a backpack, as Endean scores her movements in unexpected and at times humorous ways. When Jensen eats a packet of chips, Endean chews a celery stick into a boom mic. When Jensen stands up or moves, Endean plays a kazoo or blows through a plastic tube to create a “whoosh” sound.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

The absurdity of this dissonance between action and sound builds as the work progresses. Jensen breaks the fourth wall, asking an audience member to help her unzip her dress, before changing into an outfit made entirely of jegging material and loosening her hair into two comically long, Rapunzel-like plaits.3 When Jensen sings “Where did my memories, beaches, oceans go?” so too does Endean, though slightly out of sync. Finally, Jensen and Endean reverse roles. When Endean lies back on the gym mat, playing an electric guitar solo, Jensen pulls a rope that hoists the guitar from her hands and exposes this as a pre-recorded track.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

Slip’s rapid establishment and then dissolution of reality mimics a social media feed - it presents us with a fact, then immediately presents us with another, opposite fact or misdirects us with something entirely unrelated. In this way, Slip points to our inability to critically evaluate the information we receive or to distil the truth amid a sea of ‘alternative facts’, due to the sheer volume of our exposure. This in mind, it is little wonder that we live in a world of unreliable narrators. On the one hand, we have the mad men (those who are traumatised by the growing precarity of employment, wage disparity and climate change), pícaros (those who brag or exaggerate in an attempt transcend their circumstances – think TikTok stars) and naïfs (those who’s world view is limited by their socio-economic position).4 And on the other, we have liars and clowns, people like Donald Trump and Vladislav Surkov with no respect for the truth, who weaponize disinformation. Theirs is a chaotic seeming, but very intentional political theatre that misdirects and overwhelms both the media and the public and breeds confusion and division.5

Tethered to screens and the flow of information, we are encouraged to be constantly productive, churning out endless paid and unpaid labour (digital content). We are fatigued, overstimulated and disorientated. And in this space, fear of unemployment and climate anxiety takes precedence over critical reflection. In Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? McKenzie Wark locates the why and the how I pondered earlier, through a discussion of Big Data and the suggestion that “traditional” capitalism has died and been replaced by something far worse.6 In Aesthetics of Coercion: On Neo-Feudalism in Contemporary Art, Andrey Shental gives a name to capitalism’s successor: “Amid sharpening inequality, expanding precarity, social demobilization, and rising monopolies, we witness the emergence of a new class of corporate digital overlords and an expansion of their propertyless servants, together known as techno-neofeudalism.”7 The crux of Shental’s argument is based on Jodi Dean’s review of Wark’s book, in which she compares digital and social media platforms to medieval watermills, which we serfs work, while the lords (your Musks and Zuckerbergs) who own these ‘mills’ reap the real profits and employ frighteningly invasive surveillance methods to keep us dependent and subjugated.8

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

When Slip is viewed through this lens, Jensen’s anachronistic costume choice (medieval garb) and the entropy that dominates the second half of this work, come into sharp focus as both a critique of techno-neofeudalism and a contemplation of the dystopia that awaits us on the other side of the waterfall. In this half, Jensen and Endean are untethered from their sound/movement duet and the work spirals rapidly into a series of moments that are chaotic and reference laden. Dressed in jeggings (something else that’s masquerading as something it’s not) and a pink trucker hat, Jensen moves the back curtain to reveal a video of three watery renderings of a dancing Lana Šprajcer paying homage to TLC’s film clip for Waterfalls (1994). Endean wanders the stage in a black, hooded cape, looking simultaneously like a dementor and the grim reaper as she holds her boom mic like a scythe. They both begin to dismantle the staging, as the supporting lighting and score oscillates and they are shrouded in smoke. Jensen performs a Neo-esque backbend and at one stage rides the blue gym mat like a horse. The work ends with Jensen naked from the waist up, her chest and arms slathered in glow-in-the-dark paint, performing a rendition of The Dying Swan (1905) by Camille Saint-Saëns on her knees before a candle which she then extinguishes. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. But what do I know? I’m addicted to social media and a notoriously unreliable narrator. My memories are slippery and wet and conflated with everything I’ve seen online since. I’m too tired to fact check them. Who has the energy to think critically these days?

Rebecca Jensen, Slip, 2023, performance documentation, Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre, Naarm (Melbourne). Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Aviva Endean and Lana Šprajcer. Photo: Sarah Walker.

  1. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, “Hito Steyerl – They Are Oblivious to the Violence of Their Acts. Windows, Screens and Pictorial Gestures in Troubled Times”, Castello Di Rivoli, viewed 28 July 2023,

  2. Rebecca Jensen, email correspondence with the author, Anador Walsh, 22 March 2023.

  3. Popular in the early 2000’s, jeggings are tight-fitting, stretchy pants that imitate denim jeans.

  4. An unreliable narrator is a literary evice, employed by an author for the urpose of adding conflict and tension o a work of fiction, however has wider pplications under networked capitalism. here are many definitions of unreliable arrators however Jerry Jenkins provides uccinct descriptions and examples that re consistent with most other sources n this device. Jerry Jenkins, “What s an Unreliable Narrator?”, Jerry enkins’ personal website including a log and writing workshops, published 4 ay 2021,

  5. Specious narratives, conspiracy theories, and indeed fake news have been part of Russia’s geopolitical playbook for more than half a century.” “You don’t even know what is real information anymore, and without that, no one can hold you accountable.” I found both of these quotes useful in writing this section on unreliable narration. Both are drawn from a piece of political commentary by Mike Mariani, in which he draws a comparison between the political practices of Trump and Surkov. Mike Mariani, “Is Trump’s Chaos Tornado a Move From the Kremlin’s Playbook?” Vanity Fair, published 28 March 2017,

  6. This is a brief summation of McKenzie Wark’s overarching argument in her book Capital Is Dead Is This Something Worse? (New York: Verso, 2019).

  7. Andrey Shental, “Aesthetics of Coercion: On Neo-Feudalism in Contemporary Art”, Spike Art Magazine, accessed on 1 September 2023,

  8. This paraphrases an argument made by Joan Dean in her review of Capital Is Dead Is This Something Worse? for the purpose of drawing a comparison between feudal and contemporary labour practices under technocapitalism. Jodi Dean, “Neofeudalism: The End of Capitalism?” Los Angeles Review of Books, published 12 May 2020,

Anador Walsh is a Naarm-based curator, writer and the founding director of Performance Review. In 2020 Anador took part in the Gertrude Emerging Writers Program and was the 2019 recipient of the BLINDSIDE Emerging Curator Mentorship. She is the curator of Contact High, Gertrude and Performance Review’s annual performance program and in 2022 curated the Naarm premiere of Angela Goh’s Body Loss at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia for Melbourne Art Fair. She has written for Art Guide, Runway Journal, Memo Review, ACCA, PICA and the NGV and regularly contributes to The Saturday Paper.

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