‘Tangle Teaser’ sees artists unknot the power of hair at Sarabande Foundation, London

Last chance to see: ‘Tangle Teaser’ at the Sarabande Foundation, as eight artists get to the root of hair and its power

Tangle Teaser at Sarabande: hand holds red hair
Shirin Fathi, Fig 1. First stage of rhinoplasty using a flap of forehead skin, Front 2023. Archival print
(Image credit: Shirin Fathi. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Human hair is exceptionally charged. Its styling can reflect religious beliefs, beauty standards, gender dynamics, and political suppression. It is variously seen as seductive and repellant; a desired adornment or unseemly revulsion. Lee McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation shows eight artists in ‘Tangle Teaser’, a London art exhibition dedicated to the power of hair (until 12 June). 

Tangle Teaser exhibition at Sarabande: hand holds red hair

Paloma Tendero, Medusa’s Hair, 2018, C-type photograph 

(Image credit: Paloma Tendero. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Numerous pieces utilise disembodied hair. While it is often fetishised when connected to the head, hair in a plughole or stuck to the bathroom floor is another matter. Camilla Hanney’s Domestic Pleasure subverts this, featuring a broom with luscious curls spilling from the handle, forming plaited waves on the floor. Isabel Castro Jung works with her and her partner’s combined hair, taking a matted entanglement and turning it into a celebration of love. Rosie Gibbons’ comical self-portraits feature hair pulled from her brush, parodying the glamour of fashion photographs. 

Tangle Teaser at Sarabande exhibition, hair photos

Rosie Gibbens, Hairballs, 2022, photograph

(Image credit: Rosie Gibbens. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Anouska Samms weaves hair and combines it with ceramics. Her works speak to familial bonds between women, as mitochondrial DNA found within the hair shaft is passed down generations. Samms works exclusively with red locks, investigating the five-generation trend within her family of women dying their hair. 

‘My work looks at the things we make literal and physical as a way to stay attached to family, heritage and unknown identities of self,’ she says. ‘Most importantly, the ways we wordlessly communicate our love for others.’ Her vessels are functionless, disrupting traditional approaches to sculpting and weaving. ‘The distorted lack of functionality in my work suggests the way family rituals are passed down, reshaped and marked by each person that continues to engage with them,’ she says.

Hair ceramic

Anouska Samms, DARK, 2022, human hair, cotton, textured stoneware, pumice gel 

(Image credit: Anouska Samms. Photography: Benjamin Swanson. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Tangle Teaser exhibition at Sarabande: hair and broom

Camilla Hanney, Domestic Pleasure, 2019, broomstick, hair 

(Image credit: Camilla Hanney. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Shannon Bono’s pop-up salon and paintings celebrate Black hair, bringing together 1920s Congolese hairstyles with contemporary trends. She presents the salon as a place of connection and community, painting styling tools as items of beauty and adorning the works with small seashells used in braids. 

Africa's Pride artwork

Shannon Bono, Africa’s Pride, 2023, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas 

(Image credit: Shannon Bono. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Tangle Teaser exhibition artwork: comb and lice

Laila Tara H, Lice, 2023, natural pigment, watercolour, pencil, handmade hemp paper, mirror finish stainless steel, in Sapele frame under art glass

(Image credit: Laila Tara H. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Laila Tara H and Paloma Tendaro convey female defiance through hair. The former explores women’s historical ownership of nothing but jewellery in some countries. Hanging loops of hair ‘like a noose’ from small rings, she contrasts delicate jewels with the violent consequences of female dissent. Tendaro creates vein-like strands of red wool to explore the tale of Medusa, connecting her blood-transformative properties with the danger symbolised by her untamed hair. 

Tangle Teaser exhibition artwork: hair on floor

Isabel Castro Jung, Felt life, 2023, linen, thread, human hair

(Image credit: Isabel Castro Jung. Courtesy Sarabande Foundation)

Throughout the show, ‘Tangle Teaser’ pushes against the manifold ways in which hair is used to dominate and subjugate. Together, the works celebrate self-ownership, conveying the pure power of hair in acts of love and protest.

‘Tangle Teaser’, Sarabande Foundation, until 12 June sarabandefoundation.org

Emily Steer is a London-based culture journalist and former editor of Elephant. She has written for titles including AnOther, BBC Culture, the Financial Times, and Frieze.