In my ongoing body of work “In Between”, I'm focusing on the feeling of in – betweenship. I use photography and video performance to explore the feeling. Looking at the symbolic meaning of hair from a historical perspective, and how the meaning is influenced by society and personal experiences.
Hair has always played a significant role in both ancient and modern cultures and has been used a symbol for individuals and societies. It’s been used to communicate ones status, emotional state and membership of a group. It has also been the subject of magical rituals and as a symbol of power.
In the Pakistani culture and religion, you are suppose to bury the cut hair and nails into the ground, since it’s dead. In the past, such rituals were also performed in the Nordic countries of Europe and was done to make sure that nobody could find them to use them against you through black magic. This shows that there is some power that hair possesses, a power that knows no cultural or religious boundaries.
Another ritual is to shave the head of a newborn child, performed on the seventh day after the child’s birth, which is part of the religious ritual called Aqiqah. To shave the newborns head is to make the child safe from harm and to make the hair grow strong. This ritual has also occurred in various cultures around the world, for the same reasons.
“In my ongoing body of work ”In Between”, I have taken self-portraits and filmed a two part video performance. In the video performance I portray my feeling of longing to belong in both the western and eastern cultures. I cut my hair in an attempt to assimilate into western culture and by burying the cut hair, in my place of origin, in a symbolic act.
By burying the hair in Pakistan, I wanted to reunite with my roots on a physical level. But on an impulse, after it was buried, I decided to dig up the hair, in fear of leaving such a big part of myself behind. I didn’t want to give up that part of me."
The hair is presented in a three piece installation, which shows how we instead of giving up parts of ourselves, choose to keep them as memories.