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‘Not Another Hair Show’ explores notions of the third space

A new group exhibition opens at the NWU Art Gallery this August. Titled, Not Another Hair Show¸ the exhibition is derived from the dissertation titled: Hair Politics: An Examination of the Aesthetics of Black Female Hair in the Work of Select African Artists.

Written by Tshegofatso Seoka, the dissertation highlights the politics of black hair and hairstyling practices and choices, interrogating the dynamics of beauty within various socio-specific communities in Africa and the diaspora. The dissertation further discusses aspects of the black African emancipatory discourse, which develops as grand representations of blackness and black aesthetics, aggressively promoting a reductive narrative of mimicry where the specific hairstyles of black women are actively critiqued.

Seoka’s dissertation further questions hegemony in the representation of blackness where singular modes of representing blackness are adopted as a model. The model hegemonic representation in this case is governed by the dichotomy of the natural vs processed and artificial hair that reveals itself within a competition of the preferred model image identity and the rejected alternative.

Attempting to illuminate black women’s hairstyles as manifest of real time expressions of theorist Homi Bhabha’s notion of third space where capitalism and globalisation aid in the proliferation of new hybrid identities performed through the preferred hairstyle. The exhibition features an array of artworks stemming from multiple disciplines, including sculpture, drawings, paintings, pyrography, photography, and digital illustrations.

NWU Gallery exhibition

The exhibited works are by South Africa’s accomplished and most promising contemporary artists including Nkhensani Rihlampfu, Ronald Gunst/ John K Cobra, Olwethu De Vos, Thabiso Dakamela, Stephen Langa, Mel Madiba, Keneilwe Mokoena, Phulusho Ngomane, Nonkululeko Sibande, Samantha Maseko, and Kaya Gwebu.

The exhibition aims to reflect the role of black women’s hair as a medium for creativity, a representation of social, economic, and political affiliations, a source of pride and an expression of freedom of choice. The exhibition further acclaims the ingenuity of black hairstyling manifested through the creation and the continual development of new, fascinating, dynamic techniques, choices, and practices of black hairstyling.

Not Another Hair Show runs at the NWU Art Gallery from 9 August – 17 September 2021. The exhibition will be presented in a hybrid virtual and physical format, available via NWU Art Gallery. Find more information on the exhibition here.

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