Outside the MCA, Peace Salon gave customers a buzz
Despite the dark and ominous clouds in the sky, a surprising number of people attended Genevieve Erin O'Brien's Peace Salon on July 18. Held outside the Museum of Contemporary Art for four days last month, Peace Salon was an engaging display of social activism and…hairstyling.
O’Brien began the project by shaving her head on Independence Day “to respond to the war in Iraq and oppression in general,” she explains. At the Peace Salon, volunteers scheduled appointments to have O’Brien shave their own heads. While the premise appears disjointed, the performance served a purpose beyond merely protesting the war. O’Brien says the shaved heads remind us of the violence—which sometimes remains in the backs of our minds—while expressing solidarity with the soldiers currently abroad as well as support for bringing them home.
Many people seemed to appreciate her message. The Peace Salon’s first weekend attracted “about forty” volunteers, said O’Brien, who expected another “good turnout” the second weekend. When I asked the salon’s customers, who stopped by throughout the day, why they were participating, many gave me the most succinct answer possible: “Why not?”
O’Brien gave postcards to cautious spectators—like myself—who were reluctant to go bald. On the back, she asked us to write our names and what we were willing to give up in order to bring peace to the world. So, while my locks were planted firmly on my head, I felt no indecision in giving up caffeine, a former daily “necessity.” As the day wore on, it was easy to feel a connection with my comrades at the Peace Salon, regardless of our varied backgrounds and how much we forfeited in the name of peace. By the time the clouds burst and the rain showers began, O’Brien’s project felt less like a work of performance art and more like a gathering of friends in the name of a good cause.