Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

The Hunt: Reasons and inspirations

May 16, 2019 - Celine Bodin

I have a certain fascination for representations of the past. Before we framed portraits of loved-ones there were Victorian hair medallions (mourning hair ornaments). This fascinating practice reflects on the hair’s pictorial quality as a material but also its identitary linkage. I believe photography has replaced this particular type of keepsakes, and that is the intriguing connection I chose to explore with The Hunt.

 

As a pliable, removable, and growing element, hair is the human medium of transformation. It lies on the margins of the physical self.

Although nowadays our relationship to hair is much less contrived, looking at old paintings, vernacular photographs, and films, hair is actually a very strong pointer to gender. In my photography I only work around the principles of female representation, and in particular the construction of the feminine cult and the definition of Beauty. A few years ago, I read a book of letters exchanged between Julia Kristeva and Catherine Clement, titled the Feminine and the Sacred. The whole concept of the book is to explain the relationship between femininity and the sacred, hoping to define its roots. Hair came as a very important element within this relationship. In many religions hair is considered sacred. It is either that is cannot ever be cut, or shall never be seen, as it is a pointer to female temptation and ultimately references sin. I always found this a fascinating idea. Why hair? Perhaps because it borders the wild, and connotes natural instincts. Perhaps because its undomesticated evidence of the self touches on the spiritual.

 

Yet, there is a certain oddity in the amount of elaborate styles that women have been able to come up with over time, with real discipline. Combining the idea of a sacred entity with trends from popular culture, I gathered all images I had registered for years as ideas of femininity expressed through the hair of characters from paintings, films, photographs, and novels.
It is evident that hair has had the power to completely define a woman’s identity (let’s think of Marilyn for example), and a sense of belonging. The more I thought of hair the more I thought of all the hairstyles I had seen and known that defined the myths of « female types » our mind instantly associates them with. It felt important to present as many of them altogether as possible, to re-affirm the influence of such beauty dictates in the definition of womanhood, in order to softly induce the mind into recognising this labelling habit.

The images above trace back some of my references for the series, from Victorian ornaments to vernacular photographs and film stills.