close your legs, dear examines the notion of an internal gaze, or self-regulation, through the subjective experience of the pursuit of a feminine ideal and the underlying emotional disquietude that accompanies that pursuit. This body of work primarily utilizes self-portraiture through time-based moving images to examine the a-priori fragmentation of the body in the subject. This fragmentation of the body is also a metaphorical fragmentation of the ego, which becomes a host to obsessive, self-observation and self-regulation vis-à-vis the feminine ideal.

Each moving image exhibits varying degrees of subtle motion, primarily gestures that the female subject performs in repetition, which is further looped, when projected, to reinforce the notion of incessant unease and rumination. By portraying fragments of the body of a feminine woman in conjunction with disquiet gestures, the moving images challenge traditional depictions of femininity and reframe the feminine image. Though often well intended, the saying “close your legs”, dear is the kind of subtle oppression that this body of work is engaged in conversation with.

close your legs, dear addresses the paradoxically protective while oppressive self-regulatory gaze, the feminine ideal, obsessive self-observation, and all of its accompanying emotional disquietude. The goal of this work is to continue to challenge established notions of femininity through the reframing of the feminine image and through an exposure of the internal gaze itself and the act of observation. The work creates a space for continued investigation of these themes and situates itself in the ongoing visual and theoretical conversations related to the feminine ideal, femininity and feminisms.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography, Artistic; Artists' books; Portrait photography; Self-portraits; Femininity in art; Gaze in art

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Arts (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Christine Shank

Advisor/Committee Member

Therese Mulligan


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at N7433.4.S443 C56 2016


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