Texture 4, Untreated / Outline

‘Texture 4, Untreated’ is a narrative piece, in poetry form, which is centred around traditional and contemporary practices on and of black hair, specifically within the Southern African region. The central concept being explored is whether our hair practices (e.g cornrows/mukule, flat twists, three strand twists) can act as a medium for dialogue with our ancestors.

The main idea would be to enhance the narrative aspect of the piece by collaborating with visual artists (videographers and digital illustrators) to produce a short film and a zine. The film and the zine would not only serve to project the constructed narrative through the poetry but will also serve to inform audience through artistic projection of ethnographic detail. E.g. showing images of traditional hairstyles in Zambian culture or showing video clips or audio clips of the haircare processes within installations.

Poetry Concept

Traditional & Contemporary black hair practices as dialogue between us and our ancestors can be said to manifest in different ways. These different ways or methods of haircare practices are often dependent on the types of coils and kinks that sprout from the scalps of black women that make use of them. Therefore, analyzing and putting forward, through text, the varied experiences black women have with their hair and thus the different conversations they have with their ancestors.

According to Hair Typology black hair (similar to my texture) is classed in the Type 4 category, there being three subgroups of this category, 4a, 4b and 4c. Therefore, the poem will take form of a triptych, each part being dedicated to exploring the different relationships black women in the three subcategories have with their hair.

To ensure unbiased perspectives of the aforementioned varied relationships black women have with their hair, I will carry out research in form of text and audio interviews with 4 women from each subcategory. The common threads within the conversations carried out with the women from the specific hair type groups will be used as backbone to the poem. Therefore, each third of the triptych will be written in different voices.

Through this, I hope to bring to the attention of the audience the politics of hair types within the black hair community as well as the shared experiences and shared narratives between different expressions of black women. The underlying hope is to highlight the fragmentation in order to create the environment for reconstruction of black hairscapes.

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