HAIR (2022, Cooperativa Árvore)
A video and sound installation by UMA (Joana Magalhães, Mafalda Lencastre, Maria Inês Marques).
With contributions by Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, Nabil Iqbal and Arminda Nogueira.
The hairlessness of the black hole means that it has a kind of terrible forgetfulness that is unique among all the structures of the universe. But there is something that we still haven’t understood here… (Nabil Iqbal)
HAIR is a multimedia installation about the combination of two key concepts: resistance and fragility. Devised for the 2022 edition of the TransEuropa Festival, it was born out of the dialogue between the dramaturgical and curatorial axis of UMA’s opening season – HOLE 2.0 – and the theme of this year’s festival: Decolonize, decarbonize, democratize!
HAIR addresses the contradictory materiality of hair as an incredibly resistant fiber (for example, one single strand of hair can hold up to 3Kg of weight and when we die our hair keeps growing, putting off death and time), and as a fragile and phantasmagoric “thing” once it is severed from a living body. As an immersive video and sound experience, this installation proposes hair as an object that triggers a multiverse of philosophical perspectives and political discourses, including astrophysics theories about the (im)possibility of black holes storing their information in their so-called “hair”; hair as a symbol of both colonial repression and desire; the craft and market rules of wig making; or even hair as the embodiment of personal identity and memory. Although in the Western tradition, shaped by Greek and biblical mythologies, hair is a symbol of resistance = virility and strength (think of Samson’s tale), with this piece we want to advance an alternative equation:
Resistance = fragility+decrepitude+phantasmagoria.
Through its dual condition as a living fiber (that grows, stretches and shrinks), and as a dead fiber (that falls, breaks, and eventually rots), hair seems to evoke a form of archive that remains present through its own flaws, traces, and spectralities.
HAIR is an all-around video and sound experience conceived for the main gallery of Cooperativa Árvore, in Porto. Inside a square that hangs in the middle of the room, the spectators are invited to immerse themselves, at once, in a refracted soundscape made up of multiple voices and in a panoramic and hypnotic video that hair in all its fragile resistance and spectral presence.
HAIR materializes UMA’s ongoing artistic experimentation and research. We believe that transversality and intersectionality between academic and non-academic practices, between artistic and non-artistic expressions are the key to the democratization and decolonization of critical thinking. Horizontal collaborations between people from different nationalities, affiliations, and fields of expertise during the research of a specific theme – in this case, resistance and fragility – is absolutely vital for the artistic process and the devising of HAIR. Therefore, as creators of this piece, we summoned the diverse voices of UK-based astrophysicist Nabil Iqabal, who specializes in black holes, Portuguese writer Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, author of the semi-autobiographical book That Hair, and Porto-based hair expert Arminda Nogueira.
Cooperativa Árvore opening hours:
- Thursday: 10h00 – 13h & 14h00 – 18h30 (the 21th April we will stay open until 21h00)
- Friday: 10h00 – 13h & 14h00 – 18h30
- Saturday: 14h00 – 19h00
- Sunday: Closed
- Monday: 14h00 – 19h00