Since moving to Athens, Georgia a few months ago, I admit I have not taken full advantage of the many opportunities and experiences that this vibrant city has to offer. However, I have recently been inspired, perhaps by the onset of spring, to venture out and explore my new home. I am making a conscious effort to seek out some of the art and events that Athens offers spades. This decision lead me to Tease.
The Athens Institute for Contemporary Art held the opening for Tease, the venue’s first group exhibition of the year, on March 28th. The show, like the venue itself, is definitely unique. Tease explored hair as a concept and a medium. Artists such as Jessica Wohl, Ari Richter and Brian Hitselberger, among others, explored the connotations of hair in art, fashion, sexuality and culture. local artist Brian Hitselberger’s work featured an installation of paint and graphite on one of the space’s smaller walls.
The piece portrayed the head of a man, presumably sleeping, drawn directly onto the wall with graphite under a painted gradient of blue. The markmaking used to create the hair appeared painstaking and methodical, and I felt as if the artist had lovingly labored to express the beauty in each individual hair of the man’s beard. Other artists, such as Ari Richter, used human and animal hair as their medium to create sculptural installations on the wall.
I was able to speak with Rebecca Brantley and Tatiana Veneruso, both of whom curated the exhibit. They told me that the inspiration for the show had come from Ari Richter, who had submitted work to other ATHICA shows. They wanted to curate a show that simply explored hair, which is something that everyone has, yet can mean different things to different people. Hair is certainly a versatile subject. Hair is relatable. Hair can be a fashion statement with different styles and trends. It can convey beauty or culture, as well as shock and disgust in certain situations. Tease explored these aspects and more. In one corner of the gallery, a television played a show that was completely dedicated to African American hair. Another artist made a dress entirely of synthetic hair. As I made my way through the gallery, I found myself amazed by all of the reactions that I was having to these works inspired by something so apparently common. When I was able to pull my attention off of the work,
I realized that I was not the only one that had been drawn to the exhibit. What had been an empty gallery when I arrived was now full of all kinds of people equally as intrigued, impressed, amused and, yes, disgusted, as I was. Hair, like art, is indeed a unifying concept. Athens is a place that celebrates expression and art in a way that allows exhibits like this to exhibit, and with ATHICA’s reputation for exhibits this interesting, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what will be coming up next. I am eager for my next Athens experience – by Laura Eavenson
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