Never a Bad Hair Day for Julie CurtisS

Video produced by Maria Brito. Camera: Peter Koloff. Editing Maria Brito and Peter Koloff.

Hair is a physiological phenomenon of the body, but also a cultural one. Throughout centuries, there have been rituals associated with treating and styling one’s hair and that of others.  The symbolism associated with female hair abounds; it carries sensual and sexual connotations, superpowers and health.  Whether it is braided, loose, long, straight or wavy, men and women have fetishized the power of hair throughout history.  From the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, to Botticelli’s 1486 “The Birth of Venus”, to the Grimm Brother’s 1812 “Rapunzel”, the power of hair seems to hold a magical and undeniable mysticism to it.

For Julie Curtiss, who was born in France and now lives in Brooklyn, exploring hair in her work started since the beginning of her career as an artist. There is the mundane, the common images of hair and heads, intermingled with surrealistic elements such as adding clouds or deleting parts of the scene to leave the viewer wondering.  There are so many aspects to delve into, including the morbid ones, those related to hair that still grows once someone has died, the taboos around hair that doesn’t grow in the head, and that connection that we have to mammals covered in fur.  And although hair is present in almost every one of her paintings, gouaches or sculptures, Curtiss also deals with nails, the female figure and her fascination with the spectacle of American women who transform and adorn their faces and bodies through cosmetic treatments, exaggerated makeup and plastic surgery.  A surrealist sight, indeed.