Wenda Gu and hair panel. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia.
Major Public Art Project Explores Globalization through Human Hair
HANOVER, N.H. — On June 6 the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, in partnership with the Dartmouth College Library, will unveil a major public art commission.
On view through October 28, the green house is a site-specific installation by avant-garde Chinese artist Wenda Gu created as part of the artist's ongoing global united nations hair monuments project. This massive sculpture was created from hair collected in 2006 from thousands of Dartmouth College students, faculty, and staff and Upper Valley community members. Resonating with José Clemente Orozco's utopian vision in his Baker Library mural titled The Epic of American Civilization (1932-34), the green house arises from the museum's hope that major contemporary art projects on campus will celebrate diversity and spark transformative moments in our audiences, specifically around the making and presenting of works of art.
Last spring and summer, Hood staff collected hair from local salons and two student and community "hair drives." An estimated 42,350 haircuts resulted in the accumulation of 430 pounds of hair, which was shipped to Wenda Gu’s Shanghai studio. The artist has combined it with brightly dyed hair from other parts of the world, fashioning a monument that is local in origin and global in conception. The resulting eighty-by-thirteen-foot hair screen will fill the main hall of Baker Library, the physical and intellectual heart of the Dartmouth campus. The hair screen is accompanied in Berry Library by a six-mile-long hair braid in twelve neon colors representing all of the countries of the world currently recognized by the United Nations.
Wenda Gu's united nations sculptures result from his dream that through his art he might unite humanity and encourage international understanding. He writes, "The united nations art project is committed to a single human body material—pure human hair. Hair is a signifier and metaphor extremely rich in history, civilization, science, ethnicity, timing, and even economics. [It] becomes the great human 'hair-itage.'" Wenda Gu’s sculpture at Dartmouth is a powerful statement about the living, human dimension of globalization and the diversity represented by our own community.
A second installation, Retranslation and Rewriting Tang Dynasty Poetry, presents a newly completed work on paper that explores the effects of globalization on intercultural understanding and language. The first in a series of large books by Wenda Gu, this work illustrates what happens when poetry is translated from one language to another and back again. The work confronts written communication and especially the impossibility of true or faithful translation from one language to another. The resulting texts are wry, witty examples of the misreading of language over time.
Opening events on June 6 will begin at 5:30, when Wenda Gu will unveil the project in Baker Library. The festivities will continue with a reception across the Green at the Hood Museum of Art and a viewing of the companion exhibition, Retranslating and Rewriting Tang Dynasty Poetry.
This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art in partnership with the Dartmouth College Library and generously funded by a grant from the LEF Foundation, the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Hall Fund, the Eleanor Smith Fund, and the George O. Southwick 1957 Memorial Fund.
About the Hood
The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and is cited by AAM as a national model. The Hood is located in the heart of downtown Hanover, N.H., in an award-winning building designed by Charles Moore. The museum’s outstanding and diverse collections include American portraits, paintings, watercolors, drawings, silver, and decorative arts, European Old Master prints and drawings, paintings, and sculpture, and ancient, Asian, African, Oceanic, and Native American collections from almost every period in history to the present. The Hood regularly displays its collections and organizes major traveling exhibitions while featuring major exhibitions from around the country. The museum provides a rich diversity of year-round public programs.
Admission is free of charge. Operating hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. The Hood Museum of Art Gift Shop offers items inspired by the collections and exhibitions. The Hood is wheelchair accessible and offers assistive listening devices. For further accessibility requests, please contact the museum.
Last Updated: 5/18/07