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… In the 1997 Wedding Portraits diptych, Finnish artist, Elina Brotherus, also engages with the idea of hair cutting, and in particular when connected to the failure of love or loss of a lover. Like Frida Kahlo, Brotherus identifies that in order to make her images authentic and emotionally genuine that she is only able to photograph actual events, her own reality. Therefore the artist goes from having long flowing hair to a cropped uneven style on the decisive day that she gets divorced. The act of severing ones hair is traumatic for many reasons. Most notably perhaps, a woman cutting off her own hair signifies a rejection of gendered feminine stereotypes and an escape from patriarchy (in fairytale, Rapunzel escaped her prison tower by using her braids as rope). The severing of braids in particular could also represent a farewell to girlhood and the beginnings of being a woman, or more abstractly, as the end of innocence and onset of experience. With links to love and relationships in the works mentioned however, it as if there is an even more shocking dimension to cutting long female locks; strands and braids of hair are visibly cord like (umbilical cord like), and in this sense, to sever a piece of hair not only disturbs our social preconceptions of gender, but also our biological assumptions. Cutting hair acts as a reminder of our first experience of disconnection, of the wounding felt being physically divided from the mother at birth…


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Braided Together, 2011

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