There are a lot of things about artist and photographer Oriane Zerah that intrigues you to know more about her — she is a French national living in Kabul, she is an avid follower of Guru Dutt movies, she learnt Kathak many years ago out of her passion for dance and her first photography solo in the Capital has a rather unusual theme — Hair.
We met the artist a few days before the opening of her show titled, Something about Hair, which is flagging off today at Alliance Française. It works on the concept on how women across nationalities, colour, class, etc are asked to cover their head and not show their hair. This is done due to different religious and cultural beliefs — In western countries, women cover their head before entering the church. This is done to not disturb the angles. In Islam, women have to hide their hair in public so that they don’t arouse desire and in Hinduism, covering one’s head is taken as a mark of respect.
“When I first came to India in 2001, I was so fascinated to see women with long hair but I also realised that women showing their hair is not considered very positive. And this was not only prevalent in India but in many other countries I travelled to,” says Zerah who has been shuttling between France and the Indian subcontinent for the last 12 years. Two years back Zerah decided to reflect on this issue through an exhibition.
She decided to photograph Indian women with long hair depicting different forms and emotions. She finalised five women from different parts of India to be her subject. This included women from Cochin, Jodhpur and Jaipur.
“It was interesting to know that these women kept long hair for different reasons. Some kept it out of choice and others were asked to do so. Like the 17-year-old daughter of a fisherman from Cochin kept her hair hair because she was following a certain tradition.”
Zerah also found relevance of hair in Hindu mythology and she very interestingly shares it with us. “Isn’t it beautiful how Lord Shiva trapped Ganges in his hair or how Goddess Kali with her hair open is considered a very strong avatar of hers?”
At the exhibition, Zerah has around 40 works on display in different sizes. Watch out for hair that are bushy and thin, are signs of seduction and power or something that simply fascinates or inspires. “Long hair can even make a woman disappear and you will get to see that in my works,” she says.
CATCH IT LIVE
What: Something about Hair, a photography show
Where: Gallerie Romain Rolland, Alliance Française de Delhi, 72, Lodi Estate
On Till: June 1
Timing: 11 am to 7 pm
Nearest Mtero Station: Khan Market on the Violet Line