Salooni pops up all around

CityPress - - Trending - GARRETH VAN NIEK­ERK garreth.van­niek­erk@city­press.co.za

A nos­tal­gic se­ries of pop-up installations aimed at un­rav­el­ling the pol­i­tics of black hair was re­cently awarded ma­jor spon­sor­ship from the Bri­tish Coun­cil, and we’re quickly fall­ing in love with the idea. Us­ing the for­mat of the sa­lon as its start­ing point, the Salooni restages some of the iconic im­agery from the beau­ti­ful bar­ber­shops and sa­lons of Africa to cre­ate new im­agery that both ex­plores and cel­e­brates the iden­tity of the past and its in­flu­ence on black woman of the 21st cen­tury.

The group asks: What prac­tices of self-care and love have been repli­cated and shared by black girls and women in the styling and braid­ing of their hair? What col­lec­tive and in­di­vid­ual trau­mas have we en­dured and per­pet­u­ated as a re­sult of re­jec­tion from Western hege­monic cul­tures and in our own at­tempts to con­form and sur­vive a world in which beauty stan­dards are dic­tated by Cau­casian cul­ture?

The mem­bers of the col­lec­tive be­hind the project – rang­ing from fash­ion ex­perts to cu­ra­tors, pho­tog­ra­phers and per­form­ers – each find their own ways to ex­press their per­sonal hair nar­ra­tives.

Their fierce images, which echo the aes­thet­ics of great African pho­tog­ra­phers such as Mal­ick Sidibé and Sey­dou Keïta, have now been ex­hib­ited through­out Africa – most re­cently at the 2016 Chale Wote Festival in Ac­cra, Ghana, and the La Ba Festival in Kam­pala and Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja (both in Uganda) – but with the sup­port of their new fun­ders, the project in­tends to go global, and we couldn’t be more ex­cited to see their beau­ti­ful idea grow.

They have a gor­geous Tum­blr page, full of juicy hair­re­lated im­agery, so make sure you check it out at the­sa­looni.tum­blr.com.

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