Beloved Hair

At the intersection of anthropology, the history of ancient and contemporary art, fashion and manners, the exhibition examines individual issues of intimacy and sociability through the universal theme of hair.
Addressing the idea that individuals and social groups display personality through hairstyle, presented first in terms of frivolity: competing blonds, brunettes or redheads, straight or frizzy as seen in a wide range of classical paintings, sculptures and author photographs. Comparing the coquetries of Papua New Guinea, those of the beautiful urban African or haute coiffure artists, the exhibition moves towards the idea of a human material to be shaped and sculpted, a medium both for knowledge and the relativity of beauty but also an object of loss, a symbol of time passing, illness and death.
Memories in physical form, relic, talisman, for many hair retains the aura and energy of its owner. A large part of the exhibition is devoted to these mana which have given birth, in the world, to many objects called “magical” or endowed with powers that we can borrow.
The issue of remains and of trophies is thus examined, and more broadly the status of particular “objects” that straddle the borders between exasperating and insupportable, confronting our categories on the basis of universal experience.

Photo. Manon Gorgé

Musée du quai Branly/ Beloved Hair
37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris
18 septembre 2012 — 14 juillet 2013