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Hair is where it’s at « MAD Blog
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Hair is where it’s at

J.D. Ojeikere Photograph of African Hair Style

J.D. Ojeikere Photograph of African Hair Style

The relationship between Black people and our hair has always been a many layered one.  Awe-inspiring at best – and mind-boggling at worst – the hair as a medium of self-expression can be simultaneously representative and abstract; take a look at American comedian Chris Rock’s recent documentary, ‘Good Hair’, and you’ll see what I mean.

It is abstract, in that some hairstyles are just the result of black hair doing its thing: one can argue that some kinky hair types will naturally fluff and ‘stand out’ in an Afro style, simply because of it’s texture. Black hair can also be representative; other hairstyles suggest set meanings within certain cultures. My own shoulder-length Dreadlocks might say to the world that I’m Rastafarian or Jamaican, even though I am neither.  Similarly, the intricately braided and plaited hair patterns of a young woman within an African tribe might communicate that she is a bride, or has just crossed the threshold into womanhood.

Adept at capturing these varying meanings and messages, Nigerian photographer J.D. Ojeikere has amassed a lifetime of images that showcase the impressive and often architectural ‘sculptures for a day,” as he calls the attention-grabbing hairstyles of his subjects.

Shot from above, the rear, in profile, and sometimes, head-on, images from his Hairstyle series reveal the technical dexterity that goes into the creation of these temporary works of art;  some coiffures ascend from the scalp in twisting, crown-like spirals with negative spaces, while others radiate outwards with sinewy strands or giant circular puffs.

Meshac Gaba 'Rivington Place' Headpiece

Meshac Gaba 'Rivington Place' Headpiece

No different from the approach of an industrial artist, these hair designers create transient, sculptural works that amaze, inspire, and astound.  Using traditional braids in place of clay or stone, Benin-born artist Meschac Gaba’s modernist ‘wigs’ takes these sculptural works one step further.

His braided headpieces from the Tresses series reference contemporary architecture with their three-dimensional forms. Gaba’s headpieces are works of art all on their own, and are also performance pieces that blend into a moving tableau, when sported by a model.

As Ojeikere shared, “To watch a ‘hair-artist’ going through his precise gestures, like a fine artist making a sculpture, it is absolutely fascinating – hairstyles are indeed an art form.”

J.D. Ojeikere’s quotes: http://www.caacart.com/pigozzi-artist.php?i=Ojeikere-J-D-Okhai&bio=en&m=59
Image 1: http://www.caacart.com/pigozzi-artist.php?i=Ojeikere-J-D-Okhai&m=59&s=808
Image 2:http://www.iniva.org/events/2006/meschac_gaba
 
 
  • Cindy

    Sculpting and designing in hair is a form of living human artwork that would complement any catwalk. A clothing designers dream.

  • fantastic! like living sculptures… or not, since the hair on our heads is already dead…
    still there’s a vibe!


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