Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Haircuts by Children

This weeks theme from Tara over at Sticky Fingers was self portraits. I had in mind a range of photos from my childhood up until now, which together would present a portrait of myself. However time has been limited this week and I didn't want to spend another Tuesday night up past the witching hour scanning photos and writing a blog to go with them (I am paying the price for holding onto my 35mm film SLR for so long) .

So I have gone for some theme bending again and crowbarred another collection of photos into this weeks topic.

Tara said this week would be hard, and it is. To choose an image that will represent yourself is quite difficult. There are many facets to each one of us. With that in mind I have chosen photos of an event that sum up some of my many facets- those of father, partner and teacher.

Over the past few weeks my class has been involve in an art project which was part of the opening day of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The performance art was called Haircuts by Children and produced by a group from Canada called Mammalian Diving Reflex.

Over a Friday and Saturday, Flint hair salon in Norwich was taken over and run by nine and ten year old children. They staffed the reception, handed out flyers, talked the public into booking appointments, then cut, clipped and coloured clients hair.

The aim of the project is to give children a position of responsibility. To put them into a risk situation and to challenge the norms of children's position in society. Children are so often told what they should and shouldn't do- this project aimed to give them choice, freedom and empowerment. Mammalian Diving Reflex call it social acupuncture.

The children had three days of 'training' at a local higher education college, where they were taught the basic techniques of greeting clients, holding scissors correctly, layering and using clippers on some creepy model heads.

The event was an incredible experience for everyone involved. Obviously for the children, but also the 120 brave people, like myself, who cast aside their vanity and let a child cut and style their hair. The range of expressions of people who stopped to look or did a double take as they walked past the salon was wonderful.

So why is this a self portrait of me? Because it is me interacting with children that I spend six hours of every weekday with, and also Mrs Domestic Goddess Inc and Little Dude come to join and offer support. So these photos represent a mixture of my public and private self. There is a great photo at the end where Mrs DGI and Little Dude are both looking at my new 'do with an amused 'what have they done to his hair' expression.

I am the guy at the end of the slide show with the stubble. I end up with a quiffed hairdo and missing sideburns, even though I did tell my 'stylist' I didn't want him to go any higher than my earlobes with the clippers.

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