This piece is a vibrant installation made of an unexpected medium: human hair. The Icelandic artist, Hrafnhildur Arnardottit, aka Shoplifter, uses chunks of real and synthetic human hair and creates whimsical spaces that the viewer can walk through. The structures she creates are arched and plush with the pastel and neon strips of hair in a range of colors that creates a unique experience.
Shoplifter chose hair as a medium because of the way that hair is something in our society that many people deeply associate with their identity and also something that primally regulates body temperature for survival. Shoplifter says hair is the “remnant of the beast in us”. Hair is deeply ingrained in various cultures around the world through styles, color, and or removal to represent identity. She uses hair only in the color she is able to find it in, so she buys vibrant synthetic hair for the brighter colors, which allows her exhibit to be considered a found object installation.
Despite the uncomfortable feeling one may be confronted with when told that this is an exhibit made of human hair, which holds a surreal and almost creepy association when separated from a person, this installation is actually an inviting and whimsical space. There is a sense of playfulness in this installation that can be experienced for a range of ages. Shoplifter successfully creates a beautiful, happy space whilst utilizing a medium that many would never even consider, and does so while commenting on humanity’s deep cultural and personal connection with hair as a means of identity.