Multimedia project — short film, installation, archival work — on the curation of queer identity through hair.

May 23, 2020
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This project received support from the Phillips Exeter Academy Department of Theater & Dance, the Lamont Gallery, the Class of 1945 Library/Archives & Special Collections, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. It was a multimedia work that included an installation in Assembly Hall on the Exeter campus, a short film screening, an artist talk, and an archival installation at the Khan library.

It has become easier than ever to present idealized versions of ourselves to the public, but these idealized identities can become spectacles, performances for others as opposed to reflections of our true selves. The pressure to pass for a mainstream identity (e.g. cisgender or heterosexual identity) is significant. People must adhere to certain mannerisms to be validated by the dominant culture, perhaps by speaking, dressing, or behaving so that their difference is downplayed. Throughout these code switches, the body and hair remain relatively permanent.

To change your hair is to make a conscious and curated act of presentation. Hairlines aims to harness, explore, and subvert exploitation of a largely existing and visible phenomenon: queerness, an umbrella term for individuals who are not heterosexual or straight. Hairlines focuses on the curation of the external and mental relationship between a person’s hair and their gender and/or sexual identity, providing an alternate and more candid view of queer identities by subverting the idealized selves we see on social media. Without makeup, product, accent, or fancy equipment, subject and photographer work together to present the ideal self: each unfiltered subject as they are.

Below you can find the project viewbook which contains installation photos and the short film.