Angela Dennis' 'Hair Politics' - a visualisation of long-held fascination and its juxtaposition with western ideals of beauty
HAIR POLITICS is series of photographic images by Photographer and Visual Artist Angela Dennis. Dennis is a conceptual-based artist who engages in independent and collaborative projects to foster dialogue through the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race. HAIR POLITICS visualises a long-held fascination by Dennis' own afro-textured hair and its juxtaposition with western ideals of beauty. The first 3 images on display are portraits of young Black women wearing their 'Night-scarf' (taken from the 'Night Scarf' a series of 10 portraits), a familiar object near a Black woman's bedside, that is used to wrap the hair and protect the style throughout the night. These are followed by three striking, figurative still life photographs of ponytail hair pieces, commonly recognised in any Black hair care store. This latter set of images won 1st Place in the International Photography Awards for the Fine Art; Still Life category.
The contrast between these beautifully lit portraits- that in reality completely hide the nature of the woman's hair-, and the images of hair alone with no context, make for enticing viewing. 'Night scarf' allows viewers to see the subjects in a position of vulnerability, without the mask of styled or added hair, allowing us to separate the woman from the hair and see her for who she is, as well as observing the hair for what it is- in this case somewhat of an accessory.
This photo essay is the beginning of a photographic exploration into hair styling and politics, beauty ideals and aspirations, as well as the complex and conflicting emotions many women feel about their hair.