Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shen Yuan: Hurried Words

Hair holds a very special place in the lives of humans across the world.  Its natural appearance, thickness, color, and shape holds enough information to indicate a person’s cultural background, while the way one chooses to cut, style, color, or maintain their hair is an indicator of a person’s character and personal identity.  One’s hair becomes an external representation of a person, showing aspects of an individual’s identity for everyone to see.  But at the same time, hair has movement.  Its appearance changes with the flow of time and it physically leaves our body in its natural shedding and our imposed desire to have it cut away from us.  We love it because it is a part of us, but at times we loathe it because it doesn’t always hold up to our desires.

The Hurried Words show at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art exemplifies these cultural ideas of hair.  It consists of two installations, one a large brush that has captured the hair of many and the other a sea of hanging hair dryers that blows air through rolling cloth tongues at timed intervals.  The brush’s size indicates the magnitude at which we are joined by this common expression of identity, while the number of different hairstyles is a reference to our individuality.  We all seem to filter ourselves through this physical manifestation of the modern world, where part of us is inevitably caught in its crosshairs.  To me, the hair dryers represent time and language and way our voices can be droned out by the concurrent sound of the many.  Time is unexpected but relentless and forever moving. 

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