Male student dresses up as woman for art piece about vanity

Shelley Blundell

Take a boy, put him in women’s clothing, make him pull a ridiculously heavy dresser up and down a hallway for almost three and a half hours and watch the reactions of passers-by.

While the above formula may seem a little far fetched, sophomore art history major Scot Phillips did just that yesterday.

Phillips participated in this seemingly bizarre act as a performance art piece he called “Orange Dresser.” The piece was a requirement for his video performance art class at Kent State Stark campus that challenged him to push the boundaries of his comfort levels.

“In my normal dress, I wear girl’s pants and shirts, but this was even more than I was comfortable with,” Phillips said, referring to his feminine attire. “For a week and a half, I’ve been dressing up more and more as the opposite sex, and day by day, it became more of a test.

“I set out to explore the emotional weight of vanity and then manifested my idea in the physical display on Thursday with the dresser.”

Many people were both confused and amused by Phillips’ performance art, but some quickly became frustrated when Phillips, who remained silent throughout the performance, would not answer their questions about the piece.

“He’s not speaking because he wants people to figure it out on their own,” said Jeff Leadbetter, senior fine arts major. “He doesn’t want to have to explain it to every person who stops to ask him what he’s doing; he just wants them to watch and make their own ideas.”

Phillips originally planned to perform the piece from late morning until 6 p.m. However, he stopped when the physical strain of the exercise became too much.

“The exercise was definitely successful — I discovered that physical endurance is very similar to mental endurance and that vanity is a heavy burden,” Phillips said.

Phillips purchased the dresser at a salvage store and filled it with plaster, making it weigh approximately 250 pounds.

“I would just laugh to myself because people would come and help me and ask me where I wanted to pull (the dresser) to, and I’d point to the end of the hall.

“Once we got there and I turned around and pulled it the other way, they’d shake their heads and ask why they’d wasted their time — that’s the point,” Phillips said.

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].