Part part game show, part love story, part lecture exploring modern friendships
In 2011, Brian Lobel played a brutal game of friendship maintenance: over 5 days in café’s in both London and Kuopio, Finland, Brian gave strangers one minute to decide which of his 1300 Facebook friends to keep or delete. The deleting was real, the pace was maniacal, the results were final. A book about Purge was published by Oberon in 2016. 

Photo below by Pekka Makinnen.

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50 hours of performance, 800 emails from angry, amused and intrigued friends and over 2500 comments from people watching via live stream later, Purge the stage show is an interactive performance lecture exploring the process of, and fallout from, Purge and examines how we emotionally and socially interact with digital media.

Purge addresses where online friendship stops and real friendship begins (and if this is a distinction that is possible or important). In 2010, Brian discovered that his deceased ex-boyfriend and best friend, Grant, had deleted him from Friendster (a pre-Facebook networking site), which neither had checked since they stopped dating in 2006. Although they had since re-‘friended‘ in life (both virtually and non-virtually), it was the discovery of this past de-friending (and impossibility to ‘reconnect‘ since Grant’s death), which inspired Brian to create Purge in 2011.

Purge the stage show was developed with support from Arts Council England.

Tour dates include: NUS Art Festival (Singapore – March 2016), Old Folks Ass. (Auckland - 2016), Malthouse (Melbourne – April 2016), Southbank Centre, Camden People’s Theatre, JW3 and Canada Water Culture Space (London); Contact (Manchester); Summerworks (Toronto, Ontario), Showroom (Chichester), Forest Fringe (Edinburgh), Small Projects (Tromso, Norway), Vooruit (Ghent, Belgium) Rose Theatre (Ormskirk), RichMix (London), Beurrschouwburg (Brussels), Maison des Arts de Creteil (for EXIT Festival, Paris) Santarcangelo Festival, AUAWIRLEBEN (Bern), Brighton Festival, Fusebox Festival (Austin). Purge featured as part of caravan Showcase (Brighton).

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photo by Christa Holka

Purge: the installation
The installation of Purge was presented in: London, as a MotiRotiWhatCounts? Commission in July 2011, and Kuopio, Finland as part of ANTI Festival of Contemporary Art in October 2011. Thankful for the support and good humor and commitment of his facebook friends (some watched for as much as 12 hours), Brian retired the installation in 2011, recognizing that such an action cannot be repeated ad infinitum.  That said, in November 2012 and January 2013, the Purge installation was repeated by Belgian performer Isabelle Bats for Vooruit in Ghent and Beurrschouwburg in Brussels.  In April 2013, the Purge was repeated by French performer Chrissy Dante at Maison des Arts de Creteil (MAC) for EXIT Festival in Paris.  In July 2013, the Purge was created by Italian performer Alba von Von for Santarcangelo Festival.  In March 2014, the Purge was created by Amy Jephta for Infecting the City, Cape Town.  In May 2014, the Purge was created by Diego Haberli for AUAWIRLEBEN Festival in Bern, Switzerland.  In April 2015, the Purge was created by Kymberlie Quong Charles and Jeff Mills for Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas. With each additional installation, performers bring their own ethics, rationale and process to the Purge in new and exciting ways.

Press for Purge: the installation


Purge in London was featured in Rolling Stone.

Purge in the Media:  Good, Culture MagazineCurrent NewsA-N Magazine


Download the email sent to all Facebook friends before Purge here.

Read email sent to all DELETED friends here.

Click here to read the Artist’s Statement for Purge

Purge was awarded KINDEST and MOST IDIOTIC performance by the Children’s Choice Award at ANTI Festival.