Tobaron Waxman's Opshernish, 2000/2009, is the winner of the Reinventing Ritual Audience Award. Votes were gathered from visitors to the exhibition in person and online. The installation recreates and condenses a multi-part performance by the artist in 2000, and includes a real-time documentary video. For photos of the creation of the installation, see The JM Blog.
Many observant Jews practice opsherin, a ritual first haircut that initiates three-year-old boys into religious observance and study. Although most of the hair is shorn in keeping with secular or worldly male appearance, the peyot, or sidelocks, may be kept long in accordance with Jewish law.
Waxman referenced this ritual as a personal act of agency—causing the viewer to ask what creates gender, and how.
My opsherin facilitated an exodus from an infancy of self-awareness and away from kinship-based models of identity formation altogether.
Tobaron Waxman (Canadian, b. 1970)
Human hair, airplane cable, mending brackets, barber’s scissors, clippers,
razors, chrome bowls, video, and sound, installation dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist, Toronto