Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The secret life of hair


Here's Chrystl Rijkeboer at the opening of her show, Stolen Identity, at offthemap gallery on Saturday. Hanging on the wall next to her are a piece of felt and a crocheted square, both made from human hair. Chrystl has been working with hair for several years now -- spinning it and crocheting life-sized, limp human figures with it, felting it into masks and little orbs with menacing toothy mouths. The main element of this show is a series of life-sized photographs of people Chrystl knows, wearing balaclavas crocheted from hair. There's also a video showing the process by which the hair is spun into yarn, and these samples, which you're invited to touch. They feel bristly, surprisingly heavy, and they smell faintly of... hair. Chrystl says the balaclavas were incredibly warm, and she had to sew nylon linings for them because otherwise they were unbearably itchy.

There are so many resonances and implications to the objects and images in this show: the implied threat of the balaclavas; the humorous incongruity of the figures' clothing (one pair are dressed as a bridal couple); the weird fetishistic, voodoo quality of objects made from human hair. It's worth seeing, also because it will be the last offthemap gallery show in this space; Antonia's moving the gallery to her garage! There are rumours of an upcoming Istvan Kantor show. (!)

Another photo here, this one with me in it. Eek!


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