Page 1

Salcedo,  Doris.  Detail  from  Unland:  The  Orphan’s  Tunic  (1997).  Fundación  “la  Caixa”,  Barcelona,  Spain.  

  HAIR⏐  Material  :  Subject     An  Imaginary  Exhibition  Curated  by  Stephanie  Wagner       Final  Project  for  Art  After  Modernism  class,  Fall  Semester  2013  at  MassArt.     This  is  NOT  an  actual  art  exhibition.  It  was  created  as  part  of  coursework  requirements  ONLY.  

HAIR⏐ Material  :  Subject        

Hair as  bodily  expression  is  as  widely  varied  as  there  has  been  genres  of  art.  In  recent  

years, there  has  been  a  renewed  interest  in  investigating  hair  as  material  and  subject  in  the   contemporary  fine  arts.  Without  hair,  we  would  lose  one  of  the  most  important  aspects  of  what   marks  our  self-­‐identification  as  human  beings;  for  all  that  hair  connotes  acts  as  part  of  a  rich   corporeal  and  psychological  language  that  extends  across  our  constant  and  ever  changing   concerns.  Relevant  to  both  life  and  death,  on  and  off  the  body,  hair  as  a  vital  extension  of   ourselves  continues  to  be  extensively  scrutinized  through  diverse  perceptions  about  worldly   and  unworldly  socio-­‐cultural  theory  and  practice.    

HAIR⏐ Material  :  Subject  is  an  exhibition  that  explores  hair  as  significantly  premised  

through the  artworks  of  ten  present  day  artists.  There  is  no  subject  in  this  exhibition  that   cannot  be  traced  back  to  hair  as  part  of  its  materiality,  whether  the  artwork  constitutes  actual   hair  or  hair  is  portrayed  as  subject  in  the  work.  As  vital  art  in  today’s  discourse  these  works  do   not  rest  merely  on  the  conceptual  as  opposed  to  the  material,  or  vice  versa.  Rather  they  are   vested  as  objects  that  are  conceptual  in  their  very  materiality,  for  art’s  connotations  reside  in   and  through  its  materiality.1  Here  significant  issues  and  concepts  about  race,  globalism,   tradition,  identity,  exile,  displacement,  grief,  memory,  protocols,  fetish,  and  spirituality  act  as   predicate  signifiers  regarding  hair  as  matter,  and  matters  of  hair.    

Seven artists  incorporate  human  hair  as  imperative  to  the  various  content  of  their  works  

ranging in  subject  matters  from  personal  experience  as  a  response  to  assimilation,  ever-­‐                                                                                                                 1

Du  Preez,  Amanda.  “(Im)Materiality:  On  the  Matter  of  Art”.  2008.  

branching memories  associated  with  brutal  national  violence,  individual  spiritual  essences  as   collective  healing,  global  perceptions  of  language  and  race,  transnational  displacement,   puzzling  fetishism,  and  loss  of  love.  From  autobiographical  and  biographical  viewpoints,  Zhang   Chun  Hong  and  So  Yoon  Lym  have  respectively  created,  Life  Strands  (2004)  a  large-­‐scale   drawing  that  depicts  an  exceptionally  long  hair  braid  meant  to  elucidate  the  female  life  cycle,   and  Dreamtime  (2010)  which  is  a  painted  series  that  portrays  the  uniquely  varied  braided  hair   patterns  of  teenagers  immersed  in  communal  high  school  fads  and  popular  culture.  Ursula   Endlicher’s  mixed-­‐media  Website  Wigs  (2004-­‐2007)  series  communicates  through  synthetic  hair   arrangements  how  daily  personal  grooming  and  the  Internet  are  not  unlike  one  another  in   coded  protocols  that  act,  at  once,  as  representations  of  actual  human  connectivity  and   imaginary  humanoid  prostheses.    

In other  works,  Jessica  Lagunas’  Forever  Young  Series,  33-­‐41  (2004-­‐2010)  is  one  of  her  

many works  that  question  post-­‐immigration  Latina  assimilation  into  the  highly  commercialized   systems  surrounding  beauty  obsessions  in  the  United  States.  Her  work  raises  issues  about   standards  of  beauty  that  are  difficult  to  attain,  and  perhaps  should  not  be,  as  they  are  not   always  compatible  with  all  women’s  ethnicities  and  cultures.  Impossible  canons  of  beauty   conformity  work  as  a  kind  of  identity  suppression  and  do  not  leave  room  for  what  is  truly   beautiful,  which  is  to  embrace  the  important  physical  nuances  of  ethnic  and  cultural   difference.2  Within  this  vein  of  hybrid  identity,  Mona  Hatoum’s  Traffic  (2002)  belongs  to  a   lifetime  body  of  works  concerned  with  identity  fragmentation  and  unrelenting  senses  of                                                                                                                   2

Aponte,  Solmerina.  “Cultural  Materialism  and  the  Art  of  Latinas  in  New  York:  Creating  a  Revolutionary  Visual  Arts   Discourse  on  Ethnicity,  Women’s  Rights,  Exile  and  the  Latino/a  Diaspora”.  2011.  

vulnerability and  alienation  caused  by  her  own  exile  that  resulted  in  a  decades  long  severance   from  her  family.    Underscoring  her  works,  she  minimally  and  metaphorically  addresses  dangers,   disconnected-­‐ness,  and  worldwide  disquiet  that  continue  to  be  linked  with  immigrant   displacement.  To  interrelate  with  Traffic  is  to  examine  through  our  own  reactive  sensory   proprioceptions  the  meaning  of  human  hair  not  on  the  body  and  not  off  the  body,  but  rather   through  the  anxiety  inducing  emotions  caused  by  viewing  hair  caught  in-­‐between  the   suggestion  of  these  two  places,  and  the  implication  of  possible  physical  harm,  disappearance,   or  invisibility.    

To think  critically  about  one  of  many  symbolic  representations  of  human  hair  is  to  

appoint a  significant  place  for  it  through  artworks  that  investigate  personal  and  national   histories  and  their  associated  memories  in  an  attempt  to  expound  upon  life  experience  and   human  frailty.  Doris  Salcedo’s  Unland:  The  Orphan’s  Tunic  (1997)  sits  apart  from  the  other   gallery  artworks  as  if  it  was  itself  forsaken,  homeless,  and  motherless,  like  the  young  orphaned   Colombian  girl  for  whom  it  stands.  In  his  book  Present  Pasts:  Urban  Palimpsests  and  the  Politics   of  Memory,  Columbia  University  professor  Andreas  Huysson,  aptly  explains  the  important   implications  of  Salcedo’s  work  as  it  informs  collective  memory  through  the  lived  experience  of   the  individual:     In   recent   years,   there’s   been   a   surprising   emergence   of   post-­‐minimalist   art   of   what   I   would   tentatively   call   memory   sculpture:   a   kind   of   sculpture   that   is   not   centered   on   spatial  configuration  alone,  but  that  powerfully  inscribes  a  localizable,  even  corporeal   memory   into   the   work.   This   is   an   artistic   practice   that   remains   clearly   distinct   from   the  

monument or  the  memorial.  Its  place  is  in  the  museum  or  gallery  rather  than  the  public   space.  Its  addressee  is  the  individual  beholder  rather  than  the  nation  or  the  community.   In  its  handling  of  materials  and  concepts,  it  relates  to  a  specific  tradition  of  installation   art,  and  in  its  emphatic  reliance  on  an  experiential  dimension  it  is  much  less  confined   by  generic  conventions  than  either  the  monument  or  memorial  would  be.  Monuments   articulate  official  memory  and  their  fate  inevitably  is  to  become  toppled  or  to  become   invisible.    Lived  memory,  on  the  other  hand,  is  always  located  in  individual  bodies,  their   experience  and  their  pain,  even  when  it  involves  the  collective,  political,  or  generational   memory.     Standing  in  as  witness  of  the  senseless  murder  of  a  young  girl’s  mother,  Salcedo’s  austere   sculpture  coupled  with  Freudian  heimlich  and  unheimlich  notions  about  human  hair  as  part  his   treatise  on  “the  uncanny”  serves  as  a  melancholic,  yet  deeply  compassionate  account  of  a  the   artist’s  own  motherland  that  has  been  severely  damaged  by  the  effects  of  politically-­‐induced   violence.    

As a  centerpiece  of  the  exhibition,  the  San  Francisco  Museum  of  Modern  Art  has  

generously loaned  from  its  permanent  collection  six  panels  from  Gu  Wenda’s,  Babel  of  the   Millennium,  which  is  the  fourteenth  of  his  international  installation  series,  united  nations.    It   was  originally  commissioned  by  the  museum  as  part  of  the  traveling  exhibition  Inside  Out:  New   Chinese  Art.  As  its  title  suggests,  the  work  is  inspired  by  the  ancient  story  of  Genesis  wherein   one  language  that  was  understandable  by  all  was  suddenly  changed  into  multiple  languages,   which  caused  a  confusing  lack  of  comprehension  and  a  division  between  peoples  resulting  in  

the inability  to  build  a  utopian  Babylon.  In  an  interview  associated  with  a  2004  exhibition  of   Chinese  artists  at  Schmucker  Art  Gallery  (Gettysburg,  Pennsylvania),  Gu  stated  that  his  first   forays  into  creating  pseudo-­‐script  were  in  response  to  his  inability  to  understand  the  first   standardized  seal  script  established  in  ancient  China  that  can  only  read  with  specialized   training,  and  a  resulting  desire  to  create  an  unreadable  language  as  an  avant-­‐garde  challenge  to   Chinese  tradition.3  In  the  manner  of  his  experience  with  the  philosophies  of  Ludwig   Wittgenstein,  Gu  explained:  “I  intuitively  felt  a  great  deal  of  freedom,  for  my  idea  is  that  if  you   understand  the  content  of  the  characters,  you  will  be  confined  by  it…there  is  always  something   mystic  and  unexplainable  in  the  world  that  language  cannot  capture.”4    In  keeping  with  his   beliefs,  each  scroll  is  covered  row-­‐by-­‐row  with  illogical  characters  are  in  fact  many  international   languages  that  have  been  re-­‐characterized  into  a  new  indecipherable  “language”  that  works  to   transcend  what  we  too  often  comprehend  as  culturally  dividing  stereotypes.  Prepared  with   dark  over  light  human  hair  blended  from  the  people  of  many  nations,  the  scripts  on  each  paper   scroll  function  allegorically  to  overcome  bodily  boundaries  thereby  referencing  a  shared   humanity  as  a  beautiful  and  hopeful  testament  to  the  possibilities  of  a  more  peaceful  and   unified  global  existence.  If  the  DNA  of  one  person  is  contained  in  a  single  strand  of  hair,  then   the  combining  of  hair  from  thousands  of  people  might  be  considered  a  linking  of  ethnicities,   races,  and  cultures,  thus  expanding  our  ideas  about  a  borderless  existence  and  the  ability  to   work  toward  positively  uniting  with  one  another.    

To look  back  at  the  premise  of  this  exhibition,  material,  which  is  to  say  hair  as  matter,  is  

                                                                                                              3 4

Cateforis,  David.  “Wenda  Gu’s  Metamorphoses”.  2008.      Ibid.  

to look  at  how  the  psychological  properties  and  socio-­‐cultural  importance  of  hair  is  perceived   through  the  varied  lenses  of  the  artists  regarding  essential  ideals  about  human  existence  and   the  broad  symbolism  suggested  by  its  nature,  on  and  off  the  body.  Matters  of  hair  taken  up  by   the  artworks  included  in  HAIR⏐  Material  :  Subject  are  intended  to  illuminate  the  power  of  hair   through  subjects  that  are  meant  to  interfere  with  and  make  more  malleable  the  norms  in  which   we  think  thereby  altering  many  of  our  preconceptions  about  one  another  and  our  place   together  in  the  world  in  which  we  live.    

Stephanie Wagner,  curator  

Bibliography Antoni,  Janine.  “Mona  Hatoum”.  Bomb  Magazine  63,  Spring  1998.  1998.  Web.   Aponte,  Solmerina.  “Cultural  Materialism  and  the  Art  of  Latinas  in  New  York:  Creating  a     Revolutionary  Visual  Arts  Discourse  on  Ethnicity,  Women’s  Rights,  Exile  and  the  Latino/a     Diaspora”.  Instituto  Universitario  de  Investigación  en  Estudios  Norteamericanos     Benjamin  Franklin.  2011.  Web.   Aranda-­‐Alvarada,  Rocio.  “A  Kind  of  Floating  History:  Paintings  by  So  Yoon  Lym”.  2010.  Web.   Armstrong,  Carol  and  Catherine  de  Zegher.  Women  Artists  at  the  Millennium.  Cambridge:  The     MIT  Press,  2006.  Print.   Barson,  Tanya.  “Unland:  The  Place  of  Testimony”.  Tate  Papers,  Spring  2004,  Issue  1.  1    April  2004.  Web.   Biddle-­‐Perry,  Geraldine  and  Sarah  Cheang.  Hair:  Styling,  Culture  and  Fashion.  Oxford,  UK:  Berg     Publisher,  2008.  Print.   Blanchard,  Vivienne.  “Braided  Together”.  Interface:  Visual  Art  and  Events  with  a     Platform  for     Critical  Writing.    a-­‐n:  The  Artist  Information  Company.  http://www.a-­‐  17  March  2012.  Web.   Boutros,  Alexandra.    “html_butoh”.  05  October  2007.  Web.   Braided  Together:  Hair  in  the  Work  of  Contemporary  Women  Artists.  Exhibition  catalog.     Norwich,  UK:  Swallowtail  Print,  Ltd.,  2012.  Print.   Cameron,  Ed.  The  Psychopathology  of  the  Gothic  Romance:  Perversion,  Neuroses  and  Psychosis     in  Early  Works  of  the  Genre.  North  Carolina:  McFarland  and  Company,  Inc.  2010.  Pp.  44.     Print.   Cateforis,  David.  “Wenda  Gu’s  Metamorphoses”.  The  University  of  Kansas  Spencer  Museum  of     Art  Register  7,  Number  10,  July  1,  2007  -­‐  June  30,  2008.   is-­‐Gu.pdf.  2008.  Web.   Cateforis,  David.  “Wenda  Gu’s  United  Nations:  A  Consideration  of  Two  Monuments”­‐wenda-­‐gu/david-­‐kunitz.html.  2003.  Web.   Dickson,  E.  Jane.  “Body  of  Work”.  The  Independent.  01  August  1998.­‐style/body-­‐of-­‐work-­‐1168892.html.  1998.  Web.  

Du Preez,  Amanda.  “(Im)Materiality:  On  the  Matter  of  Art”.  Image  &  Text,  Issue  14.  South     Africa:  University  of  Pretoria.   df.  2008.  Pp.  30-­‐41.  Web.   Endicher,  Ursula.  “Website  Wigs  (Interrupted)”.  2007.  Web.   Fernandez,  Jasmine.  “Interview  with  Zhang  Chun  Hong  (Audio)”.  Smithsonian  Asian  Pacific     American  Program.  Asian  American  Portraits  of  Encounter  Exhibition.  16  September     2011.  2011.  Web.   Hair:  Untangling  Roots  of  Identity.  Exhibition  catalog.  Ithaca,  NY:  Cornell  University  Press,  2013.     Print.   Hung,  Wu  and  Peggy  Wang,  Eds.  Contemporary  Chinese  Art:  Primary  Documents.  The  Museum     of  Modern  Art.  Durham:  Duke  University  Press,  2010.  Print.   Huyssen,  Andreas.  Present  Pasts:  Urban  Palimpsests  and  the  Politics  of  Memory.  Stanford:     Stanford  University  Press,  2003.  (Google  Books)­‐salcedos-­‐memory-­‐   sculpture.pdf.  2003.  Pp.  110.  Web.   Jain,  Heather.  “Understanding  the  Hairy  Gibberish  of  Wenda  Gu”.  San  Francisco  Museum  of     Modern  Art.­‐wenda-­‐gu/heather-­‐jain.html.     March  2001.  Web.   Kelly,  Michael.  A  Hunger  for  Aesthetics:  Enacting  the  Demands  of  Art.  New  York:  Columbia     University  Press,  2012.  Print.   Ohlin,  Alix.  “Home  and  Away:  The  Strange  Surrealism  of  Mona  Hatoum”.  Darat  Al  Funun:  The     Khalid  Shoman  Foundation.  2008.  Web.   Olivelle,  Patrick.  Language,  Texts,  and  Society:  Explorations  in  Ancient  Indian  Culture  and     Religion.  London:  Anthem  Press.  2011.  Print.   Radescu,  Eugen.  “Mona  Hatoum  |  Work  of  Body/The  Artist  of  Body”  Artphoto  No.  6.  July  2005.     Web.   Sofaer,  Joanna.  Material  Identities.  UK:  Blackwell  Publishing,  Limited.  2007.  Print.   Weitz,  Rose.  Rapunzel’s  Daughters:  What  Women’s  Hair  Tells  US  about  Women’s  Lives”.  New     York:  Farrar,  Straus,  Giroux.  2004.  Print.  

Gu Wenda:  Weaving  Humanity      

Representing an  enormous  project  that  began  in  1993,  the  united  nations  installation  

series conceived  by  Shanghai-­‐born,  New  York  artist,  Gu  Wenda,  will  eventually  comprise  25  hair   monuments.  Over  two  million  people  have  already  donated  their  hair  through  approximately   325  barber  shops  and  hair  salons  in  18  countries,  such  as  Africa,  Australia,  Canada,  China,   Holland,  Israel,  Italy,  Poland,  Russia,  Sweden,  Taiwan,  the  United  Kingdom,  and  the  United   States.  Six  scroll-­‐like  panels  from  the   Babel  of  the  Millennium  installation  that   consists  of  116  panels,  on  loan  from  San   Francisco  Museum  of  Modern  Art  as  part   of  their  three  years  long  building   renovation  “On-­‐the-­‐Go”  program,  is  one   of  Gu’s  series  iterations  that  combine     Image  Source:;  Keywords:  Wenda  Gu  SFMoma  

Babel of  the  Millennium  (1999)  

Human hair,  glue  and  rope   Dimensions  variable  by  installation     Collection  of  San  Francisco  Museum  of  Modern  Art  (California,  US)  

human genetic  bodily  material  with   manipulations  of  characters  from  ancient   Chinese  seal  script,  Roman  letters,  and   elements  from  Arabic  and  Sanskrit.  The   scrolls  that  comprise  Babel  of  the   Millennium,  as  well  as  the  other  national  

and transnational  monuments  in  the  united  nations  series,  assert  Gu’s  desire  to  create  a   personal,  yet  universal  expression  in  our  changing  world  about  the  tenuous  nature  of  our   perceived  global  divisions  of  races  and  cultures.  Being  vitally  connected  through  the   commonality  of  our  existence  in  life,  hair  and  language  are  part  of  identities  that  sustain   individuals,  races,  and  cultures  across  our  world.  However,  when  hair  is  blended  together  to   combine  one  indiscernible  “race”  and  one  indecipherable  “language”,  thoughtful  questions  are   raised  about  cross-­‐cultural  perceptions  of  tolerance,  understanding,  appreciation,  and   acceptance.  They  call  to  mind  the  artist’s  own  uniting  and  hopeful  prediction  of  what  he  calls  “a  

brave new  racial  identity”.1    

Jessica Lagunas:  Stitching  Age      

After emigrating  from  Guatemala  in  2001,  Jessica  Lagunas  experienced  first  hand  the  

difficulties for  most  Latina  women  about  whether  to  maintain  their  own  cultural  senses  of   beauty  and  identity  or  to  assimilate  into  the  overly  commoditized,  highly  commercialized   predominance  of  Anglo  standards  regarding  attractiveness  in  the  United  States.  Through  her   work  the  artist  offers  a  subtle,  yet  empowering   invitation  into  a  private  aspect  of  all  women’s  lives,   thereby  giving  license  to  the  viewer  to  question   obsessions  about  appearance  that  traverse  and   transcend  most  economic,  racial,  and  cultural   backgrounds.  Using  hair  as  a  raw  corporeal  material  to   which  all  humans  can  relate  Lagunas  began  to  create  a   life-­‐long  self-­‐portrait.  Since  the  age  of  33,  she  has   plucked  gray  hairs  from  her  head  throughout  each  year   of  her  life.  Numerically  representing  her  corresponding   age,  the  artist  sews  her  gray  strands  into  black  silk  held   taut  by  a  wooden  needlework  hoop.  The  hair   embroideries  call  into  question  Western  mass-­‐media   fixations  about  “acceptable”  beauty  and  its  projected  

Image  Source:  

Forever Young  Series,  33-­‐41   Serie  Por  Siempre  Joven,  33-­‐41  (2004-­‐10)     Black  silk,  human  hair  and  embroidery  hoop   6  inches  each     Courtesy  of  the  Artist  (New  York,  US)  

pressures onto  women  to  be  forever  youthful.  Marking   an  important  shift  in  Lagunas’  personal  ideals,  the   Forever  Young  Series,  33-­‐41  (Serie  Por  Siempre  Joven,  33-­‐41)  declares  her  rejection  of  social   demands  to  color  one’s  hair  thereby  retaining  “youth”.    Preserving  her  hair  in  a  manner   analogous  to  thread-­‐stitched  needlework,  traditionally  considered  “women’s  craft”,  it  acts  as   encouragement  to  disregard  superficial  issues  surrounding  natural  body  aging.    By  embracing                                                                                                                   1

Cateforis,  David.  “Wenda  Gu’s  United  Nations:  A  Consideration  of  Two  Monuments”  2003.  

the body’s  evidence  of  gray  hairs  this  work  stands  for  a  positive  self-­‐knowledge  that   successfully  negotiates  the  ever-­‐present  barrage  of  conformist  cultural  and  social  demands.    

Mona Hatoum:  Locked  in  Migration      

Ever placing  her  works  within  the  visual  realm  of  the  familiar,  Mona  Hatoum  creates  

highly paradoxical,  metaphorical  artwork  capable  of  eliciting  multiple  meanings.  Born  to   Palestinian  parents  who  were  exiled  in  Beirut,  being  stranded  in  London  at  the  onset  of  civil  war   in  Lebanon,  she  recalls  a  constant  sense  of   dislocation.  Currently  living  between  London  and   Berlin,  she  identifies  herself  as  always  in  a  state   of  passage.  Traffic  reflects  on  exile,  migration,   displacement  and  their  perpetual  result,  a  hybrid   identity  that  is  often  both  personal  and  political.   Comprised  of  two  old  worn  out  suitcases  joined   together  by  a  thick  lock  of  hair,  its  subtexts  are   complex  and  mysterious  and  act  as  opposites  that     Image  source    

Traffic (2002)   Repurposed  suitcases,  human  hair  and  beeswax   18.9  x  25.6  x  26.8  inches     Courtesy  of  the  Artist  (London,  UK)  

work at  once  to  connote  construction  and   deconstruction,  attraction  and  repulsion,   unraveling  and  entanglement.  As  is  often  the  case   with  Hatoum’s  work,  Traffic  incites  multiple   meanings.  Falling  out  from  both  suitcases  and   piled  as  if  in  abjection  onto  the  floor  in-­‐between,  

it is  difficult  to  surmise  if  the  hair  is  from  one  or  more  person.  It  seems  to  suggest  an  existence   that  is  immovable  between  the  possibilities  of  two  places  or  “the  movement  of  life  from  an   unknown  moment,  birth  towards  another  unknown  moment,  death.”2  Alix  Ohlin  suggests  other   possible  connotations,  such  as  “a  metaphor  for  those  who  travel,  carrying  their  baggage   (emotional,  cultural  and  literal)  from  one  culture  to  another.    At  the  same  time,  it  reminds  us                                                                                                                   2

Radescu,  Eugen.  “Mona  Hatoum  |  Work  of  Body/The  Artist  of  Body“.  Artphoto,  No.  6.  July  2005.  

that no  object  exists  in  our  lives  without  getting  tangled  up  in  our  own  bodies,  our  emotions,   and  our  sense  of  ourselves.    Lastly,  its  title  seems  to  suggest  an  association  with  human   trafficking;  perhaps  the  hair  is  spilling  out  from  a  body  not  quite  contained  within  these  two   suitcases.”3    

Ursula Endlicher:  Networked  Entanglement      

As a  means  to  visualize  and  humanize  the  underlying  organizational  layers  of  familiar  

Internet websites  that  most  people  use  everyday,  Austria  born,  New  York  based  artist,  Ursula   Endlicher,  translates  their  hypertext  link  structures   into  wig  “hair-­‐dos”.  Multi-­‐media  sculptures  from  her   Website  Wigs  series  operate  diagrammatically  as   individual  and  interlinked  representations  of  the   html  code  of,,,,,  and  her  own  website,  These  hairy  “websites”  are  constructed   from  a  physical  viewpoint  that  can  be  considered   from  both  human  and  humanoid  perspectives.   Representations  of  partly  human  prostheses  and   partly  network  schemas,  they  act  as  illustrations  of   daily  bodily  rituals  and  the  ever-­‐present  existence   and  utilization  of  computers  in  our  lives.  Based   entirely  on  the  grammatical  formulas  of  each   website,  Endlicher  investigates  similarities  through   each  wig’s  hair  arrangements  alluding  to  the   processes  and  protocols  in  which  we  groom  

Images  source:    

Website Wigs  (2004-­‐2007)   Hand-­‐dyed  synthetic  hair  wigs,  elastics,  pushpins,   hairbrushes,  hair  comb   Dimensions  variable  by  installation     Courtesy  of  the  Artist  (New  York,  US)  


Ohlin,  Alix.  “Home  and  Away:  The  Strange  Surrealism  of  Mona  Hatoum”.  2008.    Image  inset  of  Website  Wigs  series:­‐Interrupted  (left  top),­‐Interrupted  (left  bottom),­‐Interrupted  (right  top),  (right  second),  (right  third),  and  (right   bottom).  


ourselves and  the  architecture  of  common  links  we  visit  in  our  day-­‐by-­‐day  computer   interactions.  Assorted  braid  types  and  color-­‐coded  elastics  represent  unique  functionalities  and   specific  links  that  we  “click”  to  visit  on  connected  website  pages.  Knotted  hair  strands  represent   “secure  https”,  such  as  when  we  are  linked  to  a  web  page  to  enter  private  personal   information.  Hair  loops  denote  menu  items  that  link  back  to  upper  level  chains  of  command  like   “Home”,  “About”,  or  Contact”  pages.  Each  website’s  folders  are  represented  by  a  specific   quantity  and  precisely  colored  pushpins  that  display  the  interconnection  of  each  “website”  on   the  Internet  in  what  Endlicher  calls  “wig-­‐to-­‐wig  protocol.”5  Fully  structured  wigs,  such  as,,  and  are  created  to  correspond  to  their  entire  multi-­‐ tiered  website  hierarchy.  While,,  and  the  Brooklyn-­‐based  Indie  band’s   website,,  represent  “interrupted”  websites  where  there  may  have  been   Internet  events  that  caused  major  problems  on  the  site.  Interrupted  Website  Wigs  contain  a   hairbrush  or  comb  entangled  in  the  hair  or  unfinished  braids  as  depictions  of  the  severity  of  a   server  crash  and  disabled  links.      

Doris Salcedo:  Stranded  Pieta      

For years  artist  Doris  Salcedo  traveled  to  the  Northern  region  of  her  native  country  to  

hear the  stories  of  children  whose  family  members  and  friends  had  been  killed  due  to   unwarranted  violence  from  guerilla  activity,  drugs  wars,  and  paramilitary  and  military  death   squads  during  the  decades  long  Colombian  civil  war.  Unland,  which  comprises  three  sculptures   poetically  expresses  the  effects  of  the  brutal  unhinging  of  a  homeland  and  the  securities   normally  associated  with  familial  and  community  ties.  Unland:  The  Orphan’s  Tunic,  like  the  life   of  the  six-­‐year-­‐old  girl  for  whom  it  represents,  is  the  embodiment  of  tragedy  and  sorrow.  Yet  it   is  also  a  work  of  compassion  that  quietly  expresses  the  miserable  despondence  and   suppression  of  the  desolately  marginalized.  Salcedo  learned  about  the  young  girl  in  an                                                                                                                   5

Endlicher,  Ursula.  “Website  Wigs  (Interrupted)”.  2007.  


orphanage who  had  witnessed  the  murder  of  her  mother.  Cleaving  to  her  only  memento,  she   refused  to  remove  the  dress  her  mother  made  for  her  shortly  before  her  death.  From  a   distance,  The  Orphan’s  Tunic  appears  to  be  familiar,  an  old  worn  kitchen  table  that  might  have   served  as  a  gathering  place  for  many  joyful  family  experiences.  Upon  closer  inspection  it   becomes  clear  that  it  is,  in  fact,   two  different  tables  that  have   been  offensively  cut  and  unevenly   and  hazardously  fitted  back   together.  Much  like  the  pores  in   human  flesh,  thousands  of  tiny   holes  have  been  worked  into  the     Image  source:    

Unland: The  Orphan’s  Tunic  (1997)   Wood,  fabric,  human  hair,  and  glue   31.5  x  96.5  x  38.5  inches     Collection  of  Fundación  “la  Caixa”,  Barcelona,  Spain  

thick wood  through  which  barely   discernable  strands  of  human  hair   has  been  laboriously  sewn  along   the  wood.  Over  the  smaller  table   portion  a  threadbare  silk  tunic  has   been  adhered  along  both  legs  and  

extended up  across  the  flat  tabletop.  At  the  intersection  of  light  fabric  and  dark  wood,  layers  of   black  and  brown  hair  sewn  across  the  surface  become  thicker  suggesting  a  bonded  band  of   strength,  however  precarious  in  reality.  Inspired  by  the  little  girl’s  dress  as  mother  memorial   and  the  multitudes  of  lives  violently  torn  asunder,  Salcedo’s  artwork  stands  as  memory  of  “the   embodiment  of  tragedy  and  compassion  and  the  idea  of  the  innocent  victim”  and  that  can  be   “considered  as  a  kind  of  pieta,  but  reversed  so  that  a  child  mourns  the  loss  of  a  parent  rather   than  the  other  way  around.”6      


Barson,  Tanya.  “Unland:  The  Place  of  Testimony”.  2004.  

Gu, Wenda.  Detail  from  Babel  of  the  Millennium  (1999).  San  Francisco  Museum  of  Modern  Art.  California,  U.S.  

  HAIR⏐  Material  :  Subject     Exhibition  Labels  

Image Source:  

Tabitha  Kyoko  Moses   Hairpurse  (2004)   3.5”  x  13.78”   Metal  clasp,  human  hair   Collection  of  Bolton  Museum,  Greater  Manchester,  United  Kingdom.  


I make  potent  objects  -­‐  tokens  of  remembrance,  souvenirs  and  relics  -­‐  from   materials  which  bear  the  weight  of  memory  and  the  marks  of  time.    

__Tabitha Kyoko  Moses  

Hairpurse  takes  on  an  eerie  fetishistic  nature  like  an  artifact  created  long  ago.  At   once  primitive  and  contemporary,  the  combination  of  a  purse  clasp  with  locks  of   hair  is  an  atypical  example  of  what  we  know  as  an  ordinary  change  purse.  Moses   uses   materials   both   decoratively   and   seductively.   The   splendor   of   the   hair   provokes  associations  with  beauty  and  femininity,  perhaps  even  sensuality.  Upon   closer  inspection,  one  realizes  there  is  no  enclosure  for  holding  coins,  which  poses   challenging   questions.   The   purse   is   a   peculiar   puzzle   that   leaves   it’s   meaning   open-­‐ended   for   the   viewer.   Artist   and   London   gallery   director,   Alex   Michon,   explains   that   the   contradictions   embodied   in   Hairpurse   suggest   the   subversive   psychology  behind  many  of  Moses’  artworks  that  keeps  meaning  fluid  and  open.    

Image source:  E-­‐mail  correspondence  from  the  artist  

Rosie  Leventon   Permanent  Blow  (2012)   20”  x  107”  x  107”   Aluminum,  steel  cable,  human  hair,  cherry  stones  and  steel  scourers   Commissioned  by  20-­‐21  Arts  Centre  for  the  chancel  of  the  St.  John’s  Church  Scunthorpe,  United  Kingdom  


Some [of  my]  work  involves  looking  through  and  behind  the  surfaces  of  modern   day  living  to  find  something  lost  or  hidden  beneath.    

__Rosie Leventon  

Permanent   Blow   is   an   ethereal,   site-­‐responsive   sculpture   made   from   local   materials   that   Leventon   collected   from   the   steel   mill   town   of   Scunthorpe   in   Northern   England.   Interested   in   how   ordinarily   discarded   objects   can   act   together,   creating   new   frameworks   and   significance,   Leventon   collected   cherry   stones   eaten   by   birds   that   were   left   in   piles   on   the   roof   of   St.   John’s   Church   Scunthorpe,   and   swarf   (fine   tufts   of   thread-­‐like   steel)   left   over   from   making   kitchen   pan   scourers.   The   artist   explains   that   human   hair   is   meant   to   represent   the   spiritual   essence   of   individuals.   The   open-­‐weave   sphere   is   filled   with   this   detritus  from  life  where  some  objects  cling  to  its  metal  net  and  others  fall  through   its  openings  onto  the  floor  suggesting  the  ages  old  function  of  the  church,  which   is  to  “save  souls”.  

Image source:  

Samantha  Sweeting   Separation  (2008-­‐2009)   25.6  x  16.8  x  4.8  cm.   Cut  hair,  metal  scissors,  3  Perspex  boxes  and  hand-­‐engraved  text   Private  Collection  

  In  the  end,  he  took  a  pair  of  old  metal  scissors  and  severed  off  his  hair,  giving  it  to   her  as  a  gift.  Delilah  in  her  desire,  she  took  it,  his  Samson  strength.  Still  heavy  with   his  scent,  she  placed  the  tail  in  a  box,  then  cut  hers  off  and  lay  it  down  alongside;  a   little  mausoleum  to  their  love.                 __Samantha  Sweeting       Suggesting   the   fragmentary   nature   of   desire   and   lingering   feelings   of   loss,   Separation   occupies   a   metaphorical   space   of   self-­‐understanding   that   is   gained   from  the  viewpoint  of  often-­‐unseen  emotions  at  the  close  of  a  relationship.   Dark   and   light   locks   of   hair   represent   each   individual   as   former   subjects   of   mutual   yearning  who  are  now  powerless  within  the  realm  of  a  love  once  shared.  Instead   of  being  treated  as  detritus  from  a  passionate  affair  gone  wrong,  the  encased  hair   from   both   lovers   act   as   reframed   relics   through   the   sentiments   of   mourning   a   precious  experience  of  the  past.          

Image Source:  

              So  Yoon  Lym    Dreamtime  (2010)   22  x  30  inches  each   Acrylic  paint  on  paper   Courtesy  of  the  Artist  

  There  is  no  race  identification,  but  a  recognition  and  eternal  connection  to   humanity  and  timeless  nature.    

__So Yoon  Lym    

Important to  the  illumination  of  diversity  in  the  history  of  contemporary  American   portraiture,  Dreamtime  depicts  the  social  and  personal  hair  preferences  of  actual   students   from   JFK   High   School   in  Paterson,   New   Jersey.   The   revival   of   cornrowing   as   a   means   of   beautification   and   self-­‐presentation   nods   back   not   only   to   the   proclivity  of  braided  hairstyles  of  the  1960s  and  1970s,  but  to  it’s  origins  in  West   African  history  and  Egyptian  times.  New  popular  culture  traditions  such  as  highly   personalized,   intricate   hair   braiding   evidence   an   investment   in   a   sense   of   pride   and  community,  as  well  as  an  awareness  of  a  connection  to  African  heritage  and   the  civil  rights  era.  In  earnest,  each  portrait  emphasizes  an  inimitable  connection   between   natural   patterns   and   the   organic   nature   of   identity,   as   well   as   the   importance  of  an  ever-­‐continuing  emergence  through  self-­‐knowledge.  

Image Source:!long-­‐hair/c30z  

  Zhang  Chun  Hong   Life  Strands  (2004)   5  x  30  feet   Charcoal  and  graphite  on  paper  scroll   Courtesy  of  the  Artist  

  The  drawing  starts  with  very  healthy  black  hair  on  the  top  eventually  reaching  the   floor  and  becoming  the  color  of  paper;  the  white  of  the  paper  completes  the  cycle   of  life.    

__Zhang Chun  Hong  

Combining the   traditional   drawing   rigors   of   gongbi   (a   style   of   mark   making   that   delimits   details   precisely)   and   contemporary   ideas   of   exaggerated   scale   and   disembodiment,   Zhang   explores   the   universality   of   the   female   cycle   from   the   glowing   vitality   of   youth   throughout   the   twists   of   mid-­‐   to   late-­‐years   of   living.   Through   an   autobiographical   lens,   Life   Strands   proposes   a   meticulous   reflection   on   the   “soul”   of   identity   in   accordance   with   many   Eastern   cultural   associations   of   long   hair   as   feminine   power   via   the   forces   of   sexuality,   internal   growth,   and   external   beauty.   By   incorporating   thousands   of   dark   to   light   strokes   onto   white   paper,  the  drawing  expresses  the  mutuality  of  yin  and  yang,  as  well  as  the  passing   of  time.  

HAIR⏐ Material : Subject  

This is an imaginary art exhibition created as part of my MFA course Art After Modernism. Enjoy!

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you