Underline was a collaborative performance art piece, in which all thirteen members of Gregory Sale’s “Art and Community” class took part. At a sexual wellness event on the ASU Tempe campus entitled “No More Silence: An Open Mic Event,” the artists waited for the sun to go down and then stood in a line, each holding part of a chain of underwear, attached at the hip and close to 400 pairs long. Each pair of underwear represented a student on campus that would (statistically) be sexually assaulted that week, the numbers borne from reported incidents and the estimation that only 5% of campus sexual assaults are filed with the authorities.
The artists then walked up to the stage, condensing their underwear object, and stood in two lines behind the microphone, taking turns to speak a few poignant words about the rape phenomenon and the personal significance it held for them. Some were aggressive and pedantic (“No means no,” asserted a few of the young artists). Others were vulnerable, either in admitting their perceived helplessness (“This saddens me...I want to help, but I don’t know how,” said Nicolas Cagnetti) or their personal experiences, often told from a place of strength (“I’m a survivor, and I stand with you,” said Natalie Walker). Kaela Meyer closed the performance with a personal story and the reveal that the underwear object represented a shocking statistic. The underwear stretched off the stage, the artists holding it silently. They stood in silence, in solidarity, for ten seconds, and then marched offstage, laying down the underwear in a spiral.