A Woman’s Right to Choose (A Girl’s Guide to Guns), Holy Moment Photography

February 20, 2020

2020 Conceptual Art Event, Notsuoh, Houston, Texas

Scope of work: 

Performance, intallation, participatory survey 

Description of work: 

Protection of the Physical Body is a fundamental political issue, and it takes a particular form when addressing the female body.

Sarah Palin and her right-leaning “Mama Grizzlies” have aligned the protection of the female body with the right to bear arms, citing the second amendment. For this faction, it is through access to firearms that a woman can protect herself and her family. 

Left-leaning, pro-choice supporters have aligned the protection of the female body with access to abortion, citing Roe v Wade. For this faction, it is through accessible healthcare and personal autonomy that a woman can protect herself and her family. 

Though typically different in political leanings, both “Mama Grizzlies” and Pro-Choice supporters are fundamentally concerned with female agency, empowerment, and are advocating for political change that affects opportunities and access.  The ways in which these goals are articulated and the plans to achieve those goals, however, could not be more divergent.   

In “A Woman’s Right to Choose,” Harris uses the “girls and guns” stereotype, as well as imagery and memories of her family history, to underscore a discussion about physical safety as a political concept. Harris is interested in conflicting partisan ideologies that seek to ensure safety and the paradoxical ways in which they intertwine. 

Action:

The action begins with me entering a temporary installation with taxidermy deer and photos of women with hunting trophies. I am dressed in layers of hunting clothes and as I take these layers off, I remove hidden handguns. The last layer, which stays on, is comprised of leather pants and a tank-top. I then get ready to go out for the evening. I create and apply gunpowder as eyeshadow, finish my hair with gun cleaning aerosol like hair spray, and apply deer scent as perfume. The final step is taking the handguns and hiding them in my new outfit.  Ready for a night out, I leave the space, guns nearly invisible beneath my attire.  By the conclusion of this 10-minute performance, I have transformed from a hunter to a “woman” and have left the space with a lingering scent of danger.

Survey questions: 

Do you think that wonen should have easy access to reproductive healthcare resources, like abortion services?

Do you think that women should be encouraged to carry a concealed handgun, especially if they feel they are in physical danger?

Do you think that Pro-Choice and 2nd Amendment positions are politically irreconcilable?