Presence, is an exploration of dislocation and disconnection of culture. It is a giant, elaborate, Nigerian hairstyle-inspired drape-like installation, cascading down a wall and unto the floors of the gallery, simulating epic heads of hair. I choose to work with the spiral hair style of the Yoruba culture in Nigeria—a method of ‘corn-rowing’ the hair from the base of the forehead up to the tip of the head in a spiral. The spiral, as in many cultures, refers to continuity or endlessness. It is appropriately used in Presence to depict the constant evolution of culture and its practices. Each strand forms rope-like spirals which are held together by plastic covered flexible wires at various points. Installing the work across the wall and floor, I hope that viewers encounter a massive form that seems to take over the gallery space, and draws you into it. The mass gives the impression of one looking through a magnified section of a styled head of hair. The giant shiny gray and black coils create huge wave-like contours and patterns across the floor, almost like braided fabric rugs which are popular in Canada. Presence is not a direct representation of hair on heads, and although it makes reference to it, it transcends hair on the body. It becomes hair off the head and manifested in strange, abstract forms, yet referencing its previous life on the body. The presence of both phenomena gives the visual perception more intensity and heightens the tension between forms. I achieve this tension and connection to the body and off the body—alive and dead—by creating cone-like projections of the spirals, suggesting head-like structures underneath the mass.
Creating the illusion of animation, the drape is activated and given life.