In the ongoing artist research project Hairhouse, Rita Nettelstad investigates the relation between hair, power, and desire. Using montage, installation, and bricolage, Hairhouse focuses on the ambivalent relation between hair as a symbolic and aesthetic capital, a symbol of beauty, and as something abject, dirty, and bodily. Nettelstad activates the myth of medusa, taking inspiration from Helene Cixous’ project to undo the hegemonic and positivistic language of patriarchy, by deconstructing and reassembling the language of myth in new and unexpected ways. Here, the myth of beauty and femininity is closely linked to the practices around the maintenance and handling of hair. Part of the project is a video focusing on a seemingly absurd production line in a makeshift basement factory, producing the various objects found in the installations. The video had its first screening at Palmhuset, Gothenburg’s oldest greenhouse. Built in 1878 and modeled after the Crystal Palace in London, it was built as part of the colonial phantasmagoria which strived to showcase the exotic for the urban stroller in the empires of Europe. In this context, Nettelstads Hairhouse activates and accentuates that which has been hidden under the aesthetics of colonial modernity. By using different objects, including human hair frozen in slowly melting blocks of ice gradually revealing their content, she disrupts it´s surface and creates an uncanny atmosphere. The symbol of medusa, merged with the logo of a shampoo brand, hangs solemnly in the center of the greenhouse.
Written by Anton Göransson