Dread Scott

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Dread Scott: Decision, 2012, performance, duration 75 minutes, video excerpt 3 minutes

Dread Scott: Decision is a performance that looked at American democracy’s foundation in slavery. It was a visceral exploration. Nude Black performers were corralled by live German Shepherd dogs while Scott read the text of the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision from a podium. The audience was an integral element of the artwork, walking through the line of Black men to get to a voting booth, where they faced an ethical question related to the legacy of slavery and voting.

Dread Scott: Decision was part of Brooklyn Bred, a set of performances at the BAM Fisher curated by Martha Wilson. It was premiered as part of BAM’s 30th Anniversary Next Wave Festival.

Money to Burn, 2010, performance and video, 40 minutes. Video duration 3:28

Money to Burn is a performance that was enacted on Wall Street. Starting with $250, I burned money—singles, fives, tens and twenties, one bill at a time, while encouraging traders and others on The Street to join me with their own money. Referencing street “peddlers” of bygone days, I repeatedly sang the words “money to burn.”

This unsettling immolation highlighted the polarization of wealth and income that exists in the world. The audience of brokers and tourists alike had the option of joining the act. Some recoiled at something that goes against principles that we have learned from our earliest age others chose to add to the pyre. Police intervened after 25 minutes and stopped the performance 15 minutes later.