The India Art Fair 2023 features a thought-provoking installation and video ‘Hair and her’.
This interactive artwork, which was the idea of renowned photographer Rohit Chawla and award-winning advertising and film writer Swati Bhattacharya, offers a strong message about the politics of hair and how it has held women hostage over time.
A 22-year-old woman lost her life on October 22, 2022, as a hair tendril broke free from her headscarf.
An enraged mob in Maguindanao is openly cutting off a woman’s hair to humiliate her for being a lesbian.
A young African American girl in Harlem is burning her hair in an effort to resemble the straight-haired women she sees on billboards, in music videos, and on Tik Toks all around her.
After their husbands’ deaths, widows in Vrindavan are shaving their hair because their beauty is no longer useful.
A man controlling a woman’s will through her hair is shown in the ancient Mahabharata epic by Dushasana, just as millions of men have done to millions of women throughout history, across cultures, and geographical and temporal boundaries.
A woman’s hair has always been intertwined with patriarchy through covering, control, and size reduction.
The history of her and her hair is told in ‘The Politics of Hair’. A newspaper has been incorporated into the piece to fill in the gaps and demonstrate that a woman’s hair is never about the woman’s hair, despite the headlines and news space that history has denied it.
The movie and the artwork portray hair cutting as a form of defiance against those who want to restrict a woman’s agency by regulating her hair.
In support of the campaign to free women from this bondage, a contribution box at the installation site requests that visitors donate a lock of their hair.
Sharing her thoughts on her creative vision and the genesis of His and her, Swati Bhattacharya said, “Unravel the history of a woman’s hair, and you unravel a history of subjugation across cultures, nations and generations. ‘Hair and her’ calls for a clean cut with this past-asking every viewer to play a part in a plea for a freer future”. – IANS