Rashaad Newsome Will Make You Whip Your Hair
When we hear the phrase “whip my hair” we automatically think of Willow Smith’s debut single, but while her interpretation paints color all over her dull school cafeteria and classmates, Creator Rashaad Newsome takes the gesture and turns it into performance art.
Known for creating works of art that sample a mixture of elements from both high and low culture, Newsome also continuously tackles the dance movement known as voguing—a style that falls somewhere in between the highly-stylized strut of a fashion model and the challenging and intricate movements of a breakdancer.
The roots of voguing are somewhat misunderstood because artists like Malcolm McLaren and Madonna led popular culture to believe it emerged from completely different influences entirely. The dance originated in the Harlem ballroom scene in the late 60s and Newsome often stages performance pieces showcasing the form using people from the black community who can attest to its legitimacy and continue the tradition and its cultivation.
In this performance piece, Hair Affair (above), three women snake and shake their bodies and coiffure, sometimes in time with each other, other times in reaction or in response to one other’s movements. Towards the end, a man enters the scene and turns up the action with his dramatic and fast-paced footing and hand expressions. Forget the lady’s blue hair—his bald head definitely made a bigger statement in this work.
Hair Affair debuted at the end of last month on top of New York’s Mondrian Hotel, alongside the celebration of Chantal Regnault and Stuart Baker’s forthcoming book Voguing and the Gay Balls of New York City. See more of Newsome’s work here.