In a world as anti-black as the one we currently inhabit, every effort made at dismantling white supremacist ideals, and humanising black people and every aspect of their lives, is ever relevant and necessary. Black hair is only a subset of Black features that have been denigrated in the current order of the world and CHALE WOTE 2016 will see an artistic intervention to subvert this order.
From the East African country of Uganda, a team of four women, collectively known as THE SALOONI PROJECT are coming to the festival with a project titled The Salooni. The group comprises of Kampire Bahana; a writer, DJ and arts organiser, Dr. Aida Mbowa; a theatre director, curator and filmmaker, Darlyne Komukama;a photographer whose work is primarily concerned with the bodies of Ugandan women and Gloria Wavamunno who is a fashion designer, director of the International Fashion House, founder of the Ugandan Fashion Council and Director of Kampala Fashion Week.
The Salooni is a multidisciplinary art project that celebrates the long history and potential futures of black hair; positing the idea of black women’s hair and their practices being a science, a society, sites of knowledge and scientific systems through which culture and survivalist strategies are passed down from generation to generation. It’ll use short film, live art performances, theater and photography to present the ways that historical memory and modes of being are weaved into the map of black peoples’ hair.
The project probes some essential questions on Black Hair and Eurocentric beauty ideals:
What practices of self-care and love have been replicated and shared by black girls and women in the styling and braiding of their hair? What collective and individual traumas have we endured and perpetuated as a result of rejection from western hegemonic cultures, and in our own attempts to conform and survive a world in which beauty standards are dictated by Caucasian culture?
The group interpret Spirit Robot as “finding meaning in the struggle”. They emphasize that, “in generations of the most oppressive circumstances, we are forced to be creative, finding meaning as a result”. They relate The Salooni to the theme thus:
through eons of being told that black hair is unmanageable, we’ve managed to retain communal lessons and practices and also found ways of subverting and surviving.
They’ll be on the lookout for certain things during the The Salooni experience; the similarities and differences in practices between Ghana and Uganda and the resulting lessons.
On their expectations for the festival, they had this to share:
the salon is going to be different from previous experiences; new hairstyles, meeting our West African counterparts and creating new synergies between East and West African artists. We’re looking forward to listening and participating in conversations exploring life-giving creativity in the midst of struggle.
The Salooni will treat people to an elevated salon experience, welcoming them into a safe, unprejudiced free space that imagines new possibilities for black adornment, self-care practices and the putting some respeck on black hair practices.
The Salooni will be stationed on the Brazil Lane on the last two days of the festival. Come get your hair done and share in the experience free of charge.