In this ritualized performance, strangers are invited to wash the artist’s hair and engage in structured dialogue, often discussing dreams, early memories of hair washing and favorite songs. By allowing others to wash her hair, the artist evokes the relationship between mother and child, as well as ideas of culture, identity, privacy, pleasure, renewal and surrender. Bass was supported in the performance by “water bearers,” a contingent of black women who helped select the hair washers and kept a watchful eye over the proceedings.

Baptized was created as a visual corollary to the live Come Clean performance. While it appears to be filmed in an intimate, rural setting, this video loop comprised of 136 sequenced digital photographs was actually filmed in a public park in the center of Washington, DC. The performance of this self-baptism, backed by an audio recording of a traditional spiritual sung by the artist, represents a ritual of liberation and self-acceptance. Stills from the video were used to create a carte de visite as well as photographic prints on silk framed inside vintage mirrors.

return to portfolio »