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
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. http://bombsite.com/issues/63/articles/2130. 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. http://www.institutofranklin.net/en/search/node/solmerina%20aponte. 2011. Web. Aranda-‐Alvarada, Rocio. “A Kind of Floating History: Paintings by So Yoon Lym”. http://issuu.com/rossiaranda/docs/so_yoon_lim. 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. http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/7241. 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-‐ n.co.uk/interface/reviews/single/2086145. 17 March 2012. Web. Boutros, Alexandra. “html_butoh”. Furtherfield.org. http://www.furtherfield.org/reviews/htmlbutoh. 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. http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/bitstream/1808/5421/1/FY08%20REG%20Catefor is-‐Gu.pdf. 2008. Web. Cateforis, David. “Wenda Gu’s United Nations: A Consideration of Two Monuments” http://www.wendagu.com/publications/on-‐wenda-‐gu/david-‐kunitz.html. 2003. Web. Dickson, E. Jane. “Body of Work”. The Independent. 01 August 1998. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-‐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. http://www.imageandtext.up.ac.za/images/files/issue14/14_2008_amanda_du_preez.p df. 2008. Pp. 30-‐41. Web. Endicher, Ursula. “Website Wigs (Interrupted)”. http://www.ursenal.net/websitewigs/ww_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. http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/encounter/interview_hong.html. 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) http://criticalatinoamericana.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/doris-‐salcedos-‐memory-‐ sculpture.pdf. 2003. Pp. 110. Web. Jain, Heather. “Understanding the Hairy Gibberish of Wenda Gu”. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. http://www.wendagu.com/publications/on-‐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. http://www.daratalfunun.org/main/activit/curentl/mona_hatoum/2.htm. 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. http://eradescu.pavilionmagazine.org/src/writer/mona_hatoum/index.html. 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: www.flickr.com; 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: http://thebronxfreepress.com
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 http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu
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 Google.com, Intel.com, Microsoft.com, Apple.com, Morexoptimo.com, and her own website, Ursenal.net.4 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: www.ursenal.net
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: Intel.com-‐Interrupted (left top), Morexoptimo.com-‐Interrupted (left bottom), Apple.com-‐Interrupted (right top), Microsoft.com (right second), Google.com (right third), and Ursenal.com (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 Google.com, Microsoft.com, and Ursenal.com are created to correspond to their entire multi-‐ tiered website hierarchy. While Intel.com, Apple.com, and the Brooklyn-‐based Indie band’s website, Morexoptimo.com, 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: www.pbs.org
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: http://www.tabithakyokomoses.com/
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.
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: http://www.samanthasweeting.com/textobject/separationandhope.html
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: http://www.soyoonlym.com/works/dreamtime/
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: http://www.hongchunzhang.com/#!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.
This is an imaginary art exhibition created as part of my MFA course Art After Modernism. Enjoy!