about hairy walls

Irène Mélix
hairy wall
synthetic hair on wall


Walls are the putative neutral ground on which art is often presented, and thus a part of the artist’s profession. In spacial terms, walls are a phenomenon of separation. The inside and the outside meet by the wall. The wall is a construction which can exclude and protect at the same time. Furthermore, the wall can can be a symbol for borders, encapsulation and national identities that are stuck in rigid categories.
Addressing the subject of walls has been an issue in my artistic work over several years. I hung wallpapers in my work about deep-level clearings (2014). I fought the wall in my video for the „WORK/STRIKE“ exhibition (2016). In the „Smoke through walls“ (2015, team2) exhibition I contemplated the hybrid potential of the wall. Under which circumstances spaces and subcultures appear that allow people to break through the walls of social norms?
My diploma project hairy wall (2017) explores the potential of the wall apart from being just an object: it becomes independent. The wall becomes body and grows hair. With the technique of electrostatic flocking I sprayed the wall with 6mm long synthetic hair.
The functions of hair include not just temperature regulation and protection. Hairs also act as sensory organs on the outside of the body. Hair changes the surface of things: it makes it softer, pleasant to caress. But short hair can also be bristly and unruly. Even when cut regularly, hair keeps growing over and over again. Hair is an important source of standardisation and social rules. While hair is requested on some spots of some bodies, on others it is expected to be removed. Whenever hair grows uncontrollably, it becomes a rebel. From feminist perspective it threatens social order.
The history of the wall on which my diploma is shown is long and complex. Being a part of the 251 years old academy building, the wall holds several historical layers on top of each other as if they would be dermal layers of the skin. For example, the swastika which had decorated this wall between 1933 and 1945 was found under several layers of paint in the 1990s and has remained there covered with more recent layers of history. Do walls age?