Created in 2006, these three braided hair sculptures by artist Meschac Gaba represent iconic buildings that Gaba initially shaped out of wire. The wireframes became the basis for intricate braided hairstyles made out of synthetic hair, meticulously executed manually by Beninese tresseuses (professional hair braiders) according to the artist’s instructions.
In Perruques-Architecture, Gaba draws from Africa’s long hair braiding tradition. In addition to simple, functional techniques, complex hairstyles of great symbolic significance are created using synthetic hair, jewellery and decorative patterns, emphasizing not only the beauty of the wearer but also revealing her age, marital status, social status or religion. In these three pieces, Gaba combines a communicative, traditional African craftsmanship with an allegorical reinterpretation of Parisian architecture’s iconic aura. Simultaneously, the weight of his wig sculptures seeks to represent the colonial burden, which African societies still have to carry decades after independence. Alongside this political statement, Gaba’s pieces show the fusion of seemingly very different forms of expression – traditional braiding art and modern architecture. He sees the resulting métissage (hybridization) as a metaphor for the inexhaustible potential of a global “community culture.”