Cut and Dried

I have had long hair for more than two years. On Saturday evening I shaved it all off. Personally I felt it was long past time for a change. I was tired of the effort and inconvenience of having thick, curly, long hair. But now that the hair is gone I feel the possible repercussions for my work need to be considered.

Prior to my hair cut Sach had pointed out that the majority of male performance artists, both at SCA and in the world at large, had short hair or shaved heads (one notable exception being Vito Acconci). At the time I was amused to be so out of the ordinary, but now I am just another performance artist. We discussed how this uniformity of appearance lends itself to the idea of the performer as a kind of every-man. While it didn’t bother me at the time that my hair precluded me from this particular reading, I am now more than happy to incorporate it in my future work.

People have noted at various stages in my career at SCA that my hair is an important part of my work. I’m not really sure why, but I have often agreed with that statement even though essentially my having long hair has had little or no impact on the conceptual concerns in the majority of my works. Of course there are works like Bed – Hair, Shroud and Grooming which make use of my hair and while I can see that the length may serve to accentuate the aesthetic appeal of the works, I don’t feel that it adds any extra conceptual weight.

There are of course unintended consequences to having long hair that inevitably impact on the interpretation of my work. The foremost in my mind is the way in which my face is often obscured by a curtain of red curls. This was a factor in works such as Scrubbing and Black Book, but is particularly evident in the documentation for Intestines. It could be suggested that my obscured face is some comment on identity or possibly that it lends a sense of androgyny to my work. I think the most important thing is that it never detracted from the meaning of the work and the hair, no longer being there, does not detract in its absence.

Finally I am also aware that many of my friends and peers saw my hair as embodying some aspect of my personality. I neither believe that without my hair I am somehow less myself or that my performances without my hair are somehow less mine.

Aesthetically I still appreciate the presence of my hair in the documentation of my performances, but physically I appreciate the absence of my hair in the day to day living of life.


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