On Hair (& women)

or how hair shapes a person's identity

CAN.PlaceVictorHugo

It was the month of December 2014, I was walking around Place Victor Hugo in Paris, when I saw this lady and I instantly decided to follow her until I could take her portrait. We went around the square, took a slight right, I noticed a construction site, and as quickly as I could, I took my picture before it was too late. So began my obsession around women and their hair.

As a child, I was shy. I had long hair, behind which I hid my face. As a teenager, I cut them very short, blindly copying what my older sister did, and I hated it. I recall one time, I was performing at a piano recital, the first thing my brother told me after it was over was "Someone called you a guy wearing a dress".

Today, I love my hair: it is a part of me I cannot think of losing, it empowers me, it dresses me, it expresses what I feel in every moment of my life.

I found myself wandering on the Parisian streets, looking around whenever I cross a woman's path and check her hairdo. Each one has its spirit, its identity. It tells a lot about the person without even revealing her face. In our societies where women often succumb to cosmetic surgery, I try to find a common bond to all of us, the hair, what does it represent? This series started in Paris because I am based there. There is surely a cultural and social effect due to the city itself. The people photographed on the street are not necessarily French nor Parisian. Anonymity at the time of shooting is crucial. There is in this gesture, a certain symbiosis between my act and my subject.

In parallel with these street photos, I am pursuing this study by interviewing other candidates, each with a story to tell, this time taken and meeting in their intimate space. The work is a kind of introspection, another way to understand the woman of today: what makes us a woman? How do we cope with norms within a society when we are forced to lose one of our feminine traits? Can we look different and be accepted? What cultural background does hair add up to our identity? Does it give away about who we are, where we come from? What about age, are we all welcoming our white hairs? Is long or short hair a sign of our gender and sexual orientation?

Through these questions and the people I will keep photographing my hope is to break some of these conventional norms that affect us all, male or female, where most of the time we end up stuck, not knowing who we are, just because we don't fit in.