Growth and Loss – Hair In Contemporary Art

OULU MUSEUM OF ART | 11.5.–15.9.2019

Hair is no matter of insignificance in human life – or art. Hair is part of the body, but simultaneously something special. It is something that sets you apart, yet it is easily altered. Hair, or lack of it, is a key element of outward appearance, and time and money are spent on grooming it. Who has not dreamed of something more or better than what one can see in the mirror? The notion of bad hair day is shared by all humanity.

Indeed, hair seems to be tangled in everything: mythology, religion, politics, the economy, ethnicity, social class, identity, gender, sexuality, age, sickness and health, art, and the popular culture. For visual artists, hair — own, real or fake — is not only tangible and human raw material, but also a highly communicative bearer of stories, meanings, notions and memories.

Growth and Loss dives into the tangled, strange, contradictory, fragile, nostalgic, humoristic and sensuous world of hair — a subject we all know both intimately and as part of everyday life. The exhibition is frankly focused on one thing only, but explores its many faces and updated looks in a memorable, perhaps even therapeutic art experience.

Elina Vieru, the curator of the exhibition, says she got the idea of an art exhibition focusing on hair years ago from a postcard that featured a picture of Helmi Kuusi’s print Plait (1977) — also featured in the exhibition and the oldest work displayed, as the majority of works have been made after the turn of the millennium. The exhibition, a collaboration between Oulu Museum of Art and the Museum of Northern Ostrobothnia, also features historical items related to hair, including hair decorations, hair dressing accessories and lice combs from the collections of the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum selected by conservators Marja Halttunen and Marja Höytyä and researcher Eija Konttijärvi.

The exhibition features works by the following artists: Jouko Alapartanen, Minka Argillander, Saara Ekström, Kaisaleena Halinen, Paavo Halonen, Mia Hamari, Marjatta Hanhijoki, Timo Heino, Artor Jesus Inkerö, Elina Juopperi, Marja Kanervo, Anni Kinnunen, Kaisu Koivisto, Jouko Korkeasaari, Essi Korva, Katri Kuparinen, Raakel Kuukka, Helmi Kuusi, Anni Leppälä, Elina Merenmies, Jarmo Mäkilä, Leena Nio, Tamara Piilola, Kaija Poijula, Riikka Puronen, Päivi Pussila, Tiina Rajakallio, Emma Rönnholm, Riiko Sakkinen feat. Louis Houenoude, Noora Schroderus, Kari Soinio, Paula Tella and Tiina Vehkaperä.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to the artists and the following collections that have made the artworks exhibited in Growth and Loss available to us: Heino Art Foundation, Art Collection of the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation / Rovaniemi Art Museum, National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Lappeenranta Art Museum, University of Oulu Zoological Museum, Serlachius Museums.


Photo above: Raakel Kuukka, Swoosh, pigment prints, diasec, ed. 2/5,  Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection, 2011. Photo: Arto Liiti.

Noora Schroderus, Queen of Hearts, embroidery on Pound sterling,
satin ribbon, frame, Serlachius Museums, 2016.

Jouko Korkeasaari, Envy, installation,
Oulu Museum of Art Collections, 2010.

Jarmo Mäkilä, Untitled from the series Sunken Atlantis, acrylic, Oulu Museum of Art Collection, 1983. 
Photo: Mika Friman.