Scalp 19:9:9

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A new installation by Harriet Murray

Two figures lie in a landscape of unimaginable beauty.
Far away in the middle distance, an audience gathers around scalp.

Scalp aims to explore the complex relationship we have had with our bouffant in juxtaposition to the many contrasting and contradictory historical references within the work.

This installation by artist Harriet Murray asks us to take the time to contemplate its abstract nature by the presentation of the scalps of two close members of her family. The viewer cannot immediately identify the age and gender of the performers as all reference points has been completely removed. Through such a reductionism approach Murray leaves us only the hair and our own reservoir of reference points to contemplate the work.

Artist statement

Over the past few years, our multicultural accepting society has taken a body blow and social differences have become a thing of note. This shift to noticing difference rather than similarity seems to have chilled the air and created hairline fractures within our communities that did not seem to exist before. Or are we noticing difference with a fearful eye instead of one of curiosity and acceptance. All this has lead me to ponder on issues of identity, how we view ourselves and how we believe others perceive us.

Scalp has evolved through my research into how cultural ideas of privacy differ and what is acceptable or not to make public or exposed. I was intrigued with rituals of personal presentation, which can extend to close family, career and lifestyle as well as including tokens or trophies of personal successes.

I became fascinated about the rituals, fantasies, and emotions specifically surrounding hair. It seems that the bizarre nakedness of the rest of our bodies has thrown a disproportional amount of attention onto the hair that grows from our scalp. The care or cutting of someone’s hair can not only be a pleasant and respectful activity but can be undertaken as a form of degradation and punishment, used as a way of de-humanizing the individual. So much so that the shaving or scalping of a victim has been a globally popular way to humiliate or destroy an enemy. At the other end of the spectrum we revel in the sheer natural beauty of a fantastic crop of well-maintained healthy hair, it arises feelings of pleasure, inadequacy and jealousy, which in turn fuel the multi-billion pound hair care industry, crammed full of life-changing products that sit on bathroom shelves speaking the language of success to those in the know.

A temporary installation for one night only at Campbell Works.

6.00 – 7.30pm  Saturday 19th Sept 2009

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