Pepper house Residency -Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 Project:

Haircut Museum-Under construction Overview

The Haircut Museum - Under construction project was first conceptualised at Kochi Biennale foundation's Pepper House residency in June 2018. The objective was to showcase the influence popular culture has over-grooming in today's society and document and comment on its effect on the behaviour of everyday people as they go about their lives.

 

Thinking about the best course of pursuit of this objective, it became quickly clear to me that the barber community was the ideal choice for a subject. Already a major stakeholder in the grooming scene with high visibility, the barbering profession is dedicated to a ceremony with a profound goal of making their customers look their best- utilizing some of the industry-leading tricks, accessories, techniques and fashionable trends.

 

Despite providing their customers with the latest in grooming style in a luxurious fashion, the professional barbering community is marginal within society at large. Aside from a handful of hair designers that have elevated in rank, the majority of barbers aren’t recognized nor have a concrete place in society. Through this project, the effort and journey of some of these barbers are successfully showcased.

 

Not simply the story and narrative of a section of the society that offers a skilled profession, The Haircut Museum strives to bring in to question our contemporary notion of what a museum is, and what it represents. Typically, the thought of a museum brings to mind historical and societal elites: Kings, nobles, warriors, and the heights of rank in a given civilization. By placing the professional trade of barbering at the centre of the community, the project seeks to offer new insight and perspective on the social growth of our modern civilization.

 

In an attempt to gather from an objective range of sources, maintaining accuracy, professional barbers from a range of location were interviewed, photographed, and observed during their work. Professional barber community within Mattancherry, Kochangadi, Jew town, Kunnumpuram and Njaliparambu Fort Kochi and other areas were also asked to contribute and donate their tools of the trade to be used in the museum; allowing visitors to grasp the tone, touch and feel of the struggle the modern barber faces as they journey through a minor yet important place within society.

 

Finally, the project declares that it is Under Construction; as it’s not the end of a story, but only the beginning. This look into modern society has many layers yet to be peeled away.