top of page

Conditioned

Hair is viewed as a vital part of the identity of African American women and much is assumed about the life, personality, and economic status of a Black woman through the judgment of her hair. These standards and ideals can be traced back to slavery, in which the texture of one’s hair influenced the levels of abuse faced and assimilation meant survival.  

Conditioned is an art installation featuring a repurposed 1970s Futura 2 Salon Processing Chair, centers around the complex history and societal pressures surrounding African American women's hair shaped by systemic oppression. 

Black hair salons were hubs of culture, community, and love for the Black community, but also served as places of conditioning for younger generations who witnessed their aunts and mothers ritualistically chemically straightening their hair to conform to a framing constructed through exploitation and capitalistic intent.
The artist reappropriates the salon chair’s history by replicating the chemical fabrication process onto the dryer head to manipulate its aesthetic into a synthetic white beauty reflecting the white-centric beauty standards that have compelled countless Black women to permanently alter their natural hair texture.

The chair is accompanied by vintage hair relaxer ads from the 1950s to the 1990s, framed in secondhand frames, depicting smiling women who promise happiness and confidence to those who sit in the chair.  The framed advertisements serve as a reminder of the manipulation used in advertisements by companies like European-owned L'Oreal that displays a caricature of a natural-haired African woman with the headline "L'Oreal Supports Black History Month" while advertising a chemical hair straightening relaxer.

 

bottom of page