Ray made this photograph of himself while in art school. A neat critique of abstraction, it represents an early victory in his campaign to recapture the body for art. The work also confronts the modern tendency to bind and gag our visceral responses. Hovering overhead in disquieting equipoise, Ray suggests both artistic control and personal submission; according to this duality, the picture's formal perfection is in service to a "happening," a gesture of aesthetic activism. The artist's deadpan, mock-aggressive tone is deliriously literal; with an irony worthy of Ray's idol, Buster Keaton, the photograph is a characteristically witty cross between a dangerously close call and a good joke.