Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hair tattoos.

Tattooed hair Styles; collection: abatfort (video of their work). Abat Fort BARBER Shop (their studio).

Hair styles; Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices.

History and traditions.
It’s your crowning glory, the top of your knot, the pinnacle of your person, your icing on the cake. It’s your hair and you don’t feel good unless your hair looks good. But what does it say about you?. Your Life? Your personal style? Your place in the community? In African society it speaks volumes, reflecting different cultures and identifying social and religious functions.
This statement is the introductory paragraph, Preface of the catalogue for the exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture, held in 2000 at the Museum for African Art, New York. written by Elise Crum McCabe (President) and Anne Stark (Deputy Director) Editors Sieber R & Herreman F, Hair in African Art and Culture, Prestel New York, 2000

The last section in the catalogue is dedicated to contemporary hairstyles (images on the left). How things have changed since the launch of this exhibition in the year 2000 (10 years ago)? Body adornment is once again the defining factor of whom we might be (tribal dress). It involves every aspect of the body: including the skin (flesh), the hair, the garment and finally the accessories.

This is best explored and envisaged in the work of the contemporary South African Artist featured below.

Going Native, Joao the Portuguese, one of five portraits in South African Artist, Andrew Putters' African Hospitality exhibition. visit Michael Stevens host of this exhibition. Read a review of his work.

Putter is driven, says some of his critics, 'to create a body of work about Europeans who had gone "native". His work is inspired by historical facts; the immersion of European shipwreck survivors into Pondo society' Natalie Rosa Bucher - Cape Times Wednesday, December 30, 2009.

For me the work is closely associated with the notion of whom we are in a changing global society, spurned on by the creolization of cultures and more importantly going back to our roots; as to who we really might be (beyond nationalism). Hence the fascination with body adornment in all aspects of the word; in the context of recent studies - cultural representations and signifying practices. This most certainly provides the context for contemporary society's fascination with tattoos, piercings and now hair tattoos, expounded below.

Tattooed Hair style by Gerhard Osler.

Tattooed Hair Studios and Barbers.
I recently had coffee in the faculty’s designer café, there I noticed the trendy hair style of a student sitting at the table next to me. I realised there and then that I should have incorporated the hair style as a reference in the development of the surfaces for my tattooed rats. This post entry therefore is only a glimpse into the world of Tattooed Hair styles. I pay homage to some of the world’s finest stylists and their craft (images of their skill) including a seminar, to be held over the next few months – the transfer of skills and techniques associated with the trendy hairstyle. For a step by step guide visit the link at Hairdressers International Interactive.

List of Barbers:Tattoo Hairstyles
Olivier Abat and Guillaume Fort.

The finest hair stylists of the tattoo variety is Olivier Abat and Guillaume Fort. Their studio is named Abat Fort: Pour La Homme (barber shop). Visit their blog and you can see them in action and or on Youtube. The ability to vary the thickness of the hair is what makes his skills so special. There studio has mastered the technique as this fine example on the left demonstrates.Obviously there are different styles - but their skill and craftsmanship, in my view, is best demonstrated this way. The close resemblance to tattoos is obvious. It would be really exciting if the two body adornment skills could be designed and developed to compliment each-other, especially when colour is added. We will have to wait and see who endeavour's to do this first.. Videos @ Youtube

Tattooed Hair style. African American.

Looking back, looking forward!

What will the next body adornment trend be - it could well be rooted in our understanding of traditional customs and practices. Below are some references that could influence the trends of the future - could hair combs, in a variety of styles make their comeback as a sought after accessory.

Traditional Mende woman Hairstyles. Photo Alldridge, Late 19 Century. Take note to what extent it had an influence on the sculptural style of masks (below).

Helmet mask, sowei. Mende, Liberia, Wood, Raffia. H:30.5. Collection and Copyright W M Itter. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Hair in African Art and culture - with reference to traditional cultural representations and signifying practices.

Two years ago I purchased the catalogue referred to above, because I adore the forms and shapes of African artefacts inspired by the traditional African hair styles and accessories. My interest sparked by our Graduation Ceremonies. Graduation at the university is always exciting – especially the variety of hairstyles of the graduates. Hair extensions of every kind, colour variation and style are on display. However it is the hair accessories and in particular the traditional headrests and combs that fascinate me (see images below) . These are fine examples of Africa's design style (at its best). The refinement of forms, shapes and attention to detail are just remarkable – showcasing the value and significance; the importance of hair in African Culture. I am particularly interested in there Cultural representations and signifying practices.

Comb, Democratic Republic of Congo(?). Wood H: 23.9cm. Collection and copyright; Ethnography Museum, Antwerp. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Comb, Lugura or Kaguru, Tanzania. Wood H:15.5cm. Collection and copyright; Joyce Marie Sims. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Barber shop sign, Enamel paint on wood panel. H:74.3, 59.9, & 60.5 cm's respectively. Private Collections. Images and copyright with the Museum for African Art; Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Barber Shop Signs.
The painted images above are some of the finest examples of barber shop signs, hammered to kiosks in Africa (advertisements for a trendy hairstyle). The painted images showcase the different choice of design styles on offer, including Boeing 707, Concord Cut and Ladies Sloop. During the eighties the signs became sought after artefacts (tourists local and abroad) and adorned the living room walls of many liberal white South Africans. Could these have been the catalyst in the post colonial, multi cultural society's quest for pursuing their very own cultural roots and associated identity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi eugene... thanks for all the comments. i figured you'd have a nice new post if you were about online. i saw a couple of the hair videos you posted on facebook but like you, i've been hard-pressed to get ready for this show and have been lapse in my interaction. anyway, i love the post and have now relented into a world where this type of adornment would pass me by altogether, especially in kentucky. i'm so curious about the tools used... it doesn't seem as though they would be able to get such graceful tight curves without some kind of specialized hair cutters, unless they do it with scissors which seems even more impressive. as far as going native, i've always fantasized that if i had been around this country in the early days of european conquest, that i would have done just that but from the comfort of my 21st century home, it may be that i'm just romanticizing. either way, i'm sure the imperialism of africa would offer rife opportunities to do the same and i imagine it would have been irresistible to many. lovely post, great and concise research as alway. i love the mende hairstyles... they seem to be a perfect blend of utility and style.