Afra Al Dhaheri Split Ends 20 January - 4 March 2021

20 Jan 2021

Split Ends showcases a body of conceptual works by Afra Al Dhaheri that frame a liminal state of unlearning and readdressing. The cultural dichotomies of hair are framed throughout the exhibition simultaneously in both the understandings of hair through the domains of the public and private. The figure of the split end—that brittle fraying of a hair when it becomes too dry—encapsulates the time and space between the start and finish of a transformation, or between an ending and its separation into a new beginning.  

The juxtaposition of the organic and inorganic, embody both strength and vulnerability. Rope mimics the delicate language of hair but also evokes processes of tying down, taming, and tidying. Concrete summons images of rigid architecture and cityscapes but here develops a softness, as well, adapting to the delicate intricacies of the human body. The Arabic title of the installation Fil Al Shaar, a cornerstone work in the exhibition, insinuates a playful liberation of hair. The architectural space delineated by its ropes that hang heavily from the ceiling is meant to be experienced in the body’s movement through it, felt in the paradoxically light intimacy of touch. In contrast, One at a Time showcases the delicacy, intricacy, and force found in the organic state of human hair. The act of taping down the collected hairs and straightening them insinuates the force of external factors, and the reality of its natural state. The work explores hair’s malleability as a cultural, public signifier of what is “presentable” but also its own inherent, material force of rebellion in its persistent return to a private, “natural” state. 

For more: Split Ends Catalogue