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Photos from Hair Wars, by Johanna Lenander (Author), David Yellen (Photographer), powerHouse Books, 2007
During her presentation at Concordia University for students in the ceramics, fibres and ARTX departments, artist Io Palmer introduced us to “Hair Wars”, an amazing hair competition that originated in the mid-eighties in Detroit. A recent monograph by photographer David Yellen documents the phenomenon. See below for a description of the book.
Remote controlled hairy-copters, an eight-foot-wide hawk, a birthday cake spouting confetti, a working barbeque grill, a Bible made of hair—these are just a few creations featured in Hair Wars, David Yellen’s jaw-dropping collection of portraits taken at the touring American showcase of the same name. Combining advanced styling techniques, countless pounds of human hair extensions, and irrepressible imagination, these proudly outrageous coiffures take the time-honored tradition and culture of African American hairstyling out of the beauty parlor and onto the runway. Founded by David Humphries, a.k.a. “Hump the Grinder,” in the nightclubs of Detroit during the mid-80s, the “hair off” events started out as “Wednesday Night Hair Connection,” a weekly party. By 1994, the event had grown into a national showcase that toured the country, visiting cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, as well as hometown Detroit.