I Saved Her a Bullet

Overhead projection
Dimensions variable

In 1977, Oklahoma beauty queen and singer Anita Bryant was as recognized for her outspoken hatred of homosexuality as for the ballads that had made her famous as a singer. Bryant, spokesperson for the political coalition Save Our Children, successfully crusaded to overturn a Dade County, Florida, ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. On October 14, 1977, Bryant was speaking at a news conference in Des Moines when gay activist Thom Higgins threw a pie in her face. Bryant quipped, “At least it’s a fruit pie,” and began tearfully to pray for Higgins. Quoted in newspaper accounts after the fact, Higgins said, “I saved her a bullet.”

In this work, a still from film footage of that event appears twice: once as the physical image on the glass of the overhead projector and again as the projection. This doubling of Bryant’s halted speech reflects the two actions by which speech has been made static—once by Higgins and again by the projection of the document, suspending Higgins’s action in time in order to contemplate its implications anew.