Apr 29, 2015

Hair: This Day in History

hair still

Today in 1968, the musical Hair premiered on Broadway and
came to symbolize the counter cultural movement.

She asks me why
I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night
Hair that's a fright
I'm hairy high and low
Don't ask me why
Don't know

But the hippies knew why they grew their hair. It was not only a symbol of rebellion, but a marker of political and cultural allegiance as well as a rejection of restrictive gender norms.

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself

They'll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair
But let us now enjoy the abundance of wonderful poster illustrations of H-A-I-R!

hair poster 1hair poster 2

hair poster 3 hair poster 4

hair poster 5

Dec 28, 2014

Tallulah Gets a Haircut

August 1923 Actress Tallulah Bankhead, star of the play The Dancers,
wearing black dress and pearls, looking away from camera. Via Conde Nast

It is 1923 London. Tallulah Bankhead has been cast in a ten-month run of The Dancers.  A number of female fans dubbed the “Gallery Girls” flocked to her every performance and wanted to emulate the larger-than-life star known for referring to everyone as “dahhling”.1.  In the middle of one of the performances Bankhead surprises her co-star (and playright) Sir Gerald Du Maurier by cutting her hair into a bob. A surprising response...many of her fans sheared their own hair during the performance, tossing their locks onto the stage.2.

1. http://www.thevintageguidetolondon.com/famous-londoners-tallulah-bankhead/ 
2. Frances Osborne, The Bolter, Knopf (June 2, 2009), page 135.

Dec 13, 2014

Beard Balls and other holiday treats

It's the winter holiday season and there is nothing quite like a parade of bobbles, especially for your beard and bouffant.

Nov 25, 2014

Hairy Alphabet

In 2008 British born designer Craig Ward designed Hairy Alphabet, a font set using strands of hair. Each letter was created with randomness, using the natural tendencies of hair to arrange itself organically and chaotically. 
He allowed the hair "to fall into shapes on his scanner naturally, only tweaking letters slightly to achieve an "incidental look", before scanning them in at a high resolution. One clump fell into a perfect circle, inspiring him to adapt his usual process of starting an alphabet with the letters 'A', 'B' and 'C', to building it up from the letter 'O'.
(via www.creativebloq.com)

Oct 26, 2014

Comer Cottrell & the Do-it-yourself Jheri Curl

Earlier this month Comer Coltrell passed away. His legacy? Creating the Curly Kit, a do-it-yourself Jheri curl kit.

The Jheri curl, a permanent for African-American hair developed by the hairdresser and chemist Jheri Redding, was at the height of its popularity in the late 1970s, but it required spending tons of money going to the hair salon, buying the moisturizing products, and getting touch-ups. At $8 a box, the Curly Kit was a winner. Forbes magazine in 1981 called the Curly Kit “the biggest single product ever to hit the black cosmetics market.”

Comer Cottrell started Pro-Line Corporation in 1970 but it didn't find success until his 1980 over-the-counter product hit the market. “We looked at the curl process,” Cottrell told the Dallas Observer in 1996, “and saw it really was a simple process and people could do it themselves. It was no secret.”

Comer Cottrell, right, confers with adman Jerry Metcalf in 1977.  Los Angeles Times 

But like so many fashion trends, the success of the Jheri curl (and its derivatives) would not endure. By the mid-1980s, amidst complaints of it staining clothing and furniture and rumors that it caused Michael Jackson's hair to catch on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in 1984, it became easy fodder for jokes and comedians.

Comer Cottrell passed on October 3rd.

For related reading, check out Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd and Lori L. Tharps.

Bonus: Michael Jackson getting his hair styled for the cover of Thriller (1982).

The Hair Craft Project | Artprize

Art Fag City has some harsh words for Sonya Clark's winning submission to this year's Artprize.
I do not approve of the Grand jury’s decision to split the grand prize with Sonya Clark’s “The Haircraft Project.” This was an entirely formulaic piece. A series of hairdressers were asked to style Clark’s hair. They were then photographed in such a way that they were merely a blurry presence behind their creation. After the shot was taken, they were asked to translate their hairstyle onto stretched canvas. The photographs were terrible. The work on stretched canvas inevitably ended up in the center. It tells us nothing we didn’t know already about women’s hair.
Granted, this might not be the strongest work Clark's done but I'm not sure it's as bad as the generally negative Paddy Johnson would have you. Shamefully, I haven't yet written a post on Sonya Clark's extensive body of hair-centric work, but don't you worry....coming soon!

Jun 30, 2014

Hair and urban infrastructure

  Toa Oil Company Refinery, 2014. Detail.

Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki used matted human hair to create some of his recent works. Commissioned by the Kawasaki City Museum and the Open Museum Project for the exhibition (and the artist's on-going project) Out of Disorder, Iwasaki's miniatures of Kawaski's industrial landscape were made from hair, textile fibers, and dust and inspired by the land razed by WWII air raids, a devastation to Japan with which little can compare.

In order to recreate the nine oil refineries, power plants, natural gas generators, and gantry cranes, the artist sourced images from Google Earth because the physical buildings were inaccessible. Buildings were selected for their location and perspective. "He held an impression of Kawasaki as the industrial backbone of Japan that supported the country in its years of economic growth and manufacturing boom...These landscapes exude post-war determination. Iwasaki also admitted that he was conscious of the iconic Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama's works when creating these gritty pieces. Moriyama's grainy, black and white shots of urban Japan portray a similar era as the one to which these smoky chimneys and metallic towers, representing a sweaty, manual, and industrial Japan belong."1


 Showa Shell Sekiyu refinery, 2014

With the frailty of materials at the fore, each diorama seems a melancholic poem to the vestige of Japan's earlier strength, yet their morbid palate of greys also evoke the soot, smoke and fog of Victorian England, the destructive visual leveling of volcanic ash, a post-apocalyptic scene, and shades of grey of the dying and decay of the body itself.

TAKAHIRO IWASAKI was born in Hiroshima Japan and studied MA Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art in 2005. Out of Disorder ran Feb 15 - Mar 30, 2014.

Higashi-Ohgishima LNG terminal and Ohgishima thermal power plant 2.

But let us linger on nostalgia only briefly, for how can we not be reminded of the more recent urban devastation of Detroit?
there is only so much that the past can offer a nostalgic consciousness, which has nothing to offer but the guarantee of its spectatorship, of looking and watching—the docile view...the nostalgic wants to extinguish the world so that it can be perfected imaginatively. This has traditionally been the special enterprise of art. 3.

 Graffiti decorates the ruins of the Packard Automotive Plant, a 35 acre site where luxury cars were manufactured until the 1950s on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Ann Hermes-Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

 In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo, pedestrians walk by the abandoned Packard plant in Detroit.
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

 The abandoned Detroit Public Schools book depository

The abandoned Fisher Body Plant. 4.

1. http://www.azito-art.com/topics/exhibition/takahiro-iwasaki-out-of-disorder-at-kawasaki-city-museum.html#.U5tOHi9r07D
2. Image captions from http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2014/06/04/out-of-disorder-miniature-scenes-of-industrial-japan-sculpted-from-cloth-fibers-and-human-hair-by-takahiro-iwasaki/ 
3. Nostalgia by Ricky D’Ambrose  / http://quarterlyconversation.com/nostalgia 
4. Detroit photos / http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/detroit-federal-money-aid-infographic_n_3799875.html