“Ritual Shaving No. 1” takes place in Library Mall in Madison, WI. In the piece, I shave my armpits and my legs in a central public location. My intentions were to bring a private female beauty ritual into a bustling public area. A few people helped me shave, and some remarked that they “didn’t want to see that” or asked if I was a feminist. Even though I intentionally made myself the object, or the “looked at” in this piece, I also was able to gaze back at those staring at me. “Ritual Shaving No. 1” was my first performance piece, and marked the beginning of a radical change in my artistic practice.
After filming myself shaving in a public place for "Ritual Shaving No. 1," I wanted to record myself shaving as I would in the privacy of my own bathroom. In contrast to "Ritual Shaving No. 1," "Ritual Shaving No. 2" exposes me completely. I shave my armpits and legs in a manner that is almost workman-like. The video lasts for roughly 17 minutes, or as long as it takes me to shave after a year of going without. The main focus of the video, however, is my naked female form. The act of shaving, requiring me to stand nude in front of a camera, makes me vulnerable to the viewer's gaze. To present my body in a video online is to invite comments on my physique, to make myself vulnerable to harassment. I’m interested in why my body invites sexual comments, even though I am not engaged in a sexual act.
Ritual Shaving No. 3 is a continuation of Ritual Shavings 1 and 2. It takes place in Piazza della Signoria, in Florence, Italy. I chose to shave in front of the replica of the David statue that sits in front of the Palazzo Vecchio because the act of shaving is similarly statuesque. I was stopped by the Municipal Police mid-shave, and fined for what I later learned was a law preventing private acts of cleanliness in public places. While the work intended to be a comment on Western societies desire for women to be hairless, it instead illuminated the practices engaged in by the city of Florence to keep the homeless from shaving in public.