The Los Angeles–based artist Patty Chang’s performances and films often confront gender roles and stereotypes. Shaved (At a Loss) is an early work, created in 1998, in which Chang records herself shaving her pubic hair while blindfolded. The video’s atmosphere is both tense and surreal, even farcical, balancing the risk of harm with the control she maintains over her self-representation. Chang has explained that filming herself necessitates an engagement with ideas surrounding Asian femininity.
The video opens on a chair with a carved wooden back and an upholstered seat, surrounded by two surfaces draped in red cloth. Chang enters the scene wearing a purple skirt and a white bustier and holding a suitcase. Her blindfold is black; her hair is in a loose updo. Using a cane to navigate, she finds and lowers herself into the chair. From the suitcase, she removes a glass snifter and a bottle of Perrier mineral water. After pouring and drinking the water, she lifts her skirt and fastens it in place, bluntly revealing her vulva. She wets a bar of soap, rubs it on her skin to produce a lather, and discards it. She removes a razor from her cleavage and shaves with quick strokes, her vigorous movements contradicting her exaggerated passivity.