Performer tangled in hairy situation

Sun Herald Culture Column, Andrew Taylor, Sunday 20 February 2011, page 26. Photograph Simon Alekna.

WARNING: Kath Fries's art may make your stomach churn. Last year's Proliferation featured thousands of feathers erupting from the Gaffa Gallery, invading the space and getting stuck to the clothing and hair of those viewing it. "I'm always interested in how people move through and interact with my installations," she said. "But recently I've wanted to take it a step further than just friendly feedback and the occasional photograph where someone is looking a bit nervous about looking at art." Fries's latest installation, Clothe the wold and meet the sky, has the potential to cause anxiety in her collaborator, Patricia Alvarez. The artwork consists of hair extensions knotted into netting, in the middle of which will sit Alvarez. For two hours at Gaffa Gallery next Thursday she will sing and braid her hair into netting until she becomes too entangled to move. "I like how you can see through the netting so there aren't really any hidden surprises," Fries said. "But at the same time... you feel as though you could be engulfed by it." Fries said Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shallot, with its narrative about a woman weaving, singing and interacting with the world through a mirror, inspired her work. Alvarez, for her part, has used hair extensions in performance art before, exploring how women adorn their bodies, and used her cut-off dreadlocks to create a Santeria doll, which will feature in the work. "The act of weaving hair has been a prominent dance I have found myself enacting over and over again. It has become a natural progression to also find hair growing in my art practice." (Andrew Taylor, Sun Herald, 19 February 2011, page 26)