The Middle of Dreadhead, with Anonymity / by Sarah Stefana Smith

I have tried, to begin with, the pleasure of it all. In a day, where I am generally, fatigued. Fatigued with applications, and writing, and death, and fascism. 

So today, I sat at my table and thought what do I want to do most, next? I decided to return to my archive of images, return to several groupings of work I have produced, but have not been forthcoming to share.

In an effort at beginnings, that are more middles, then origins, I decided to think about what threads, themes, and encounters inform the visual-written work I produce. 

This is no simple task because as I introduce a new image or a new idea, the framing of the work changes. Take for instance my series Dreadhead. I began this body of work, several years ago, around 2010.

It is incomplete. I feel this way about most of my work. But then to be incomplete and unfinished is to be constantly in process. I like this as a methodology when I'm not using it to procrastinate or avoid, saying what I mean. 

Anyway, the idea behind Dreadhead, was to photograph people with locs, and to obstruct their faces, with an object (e.g. if lucky, that reflects some component of their personality) or hair as the object. I was thinking of Carrie Mae Weem's historicization and embodiment in her trilogy of work, The Jefferson Suite (2001), The Hampton Project (2000), and The Louisiana Project (2003). I was also thinking about Lorna Simpson's use of anonymity and racial embodiments in her photographs and installations. In this case, where the signal of the dreadhead, signifed beyond the parameters of the frame. 

I started taking photographs that experimented with lighting and the silhouette. The later experimentations, reflect this. What I wanted to focus on shifted. Perhaps this series is not solely about an object, hair-locs, signifying, but rather, anonymity, and the inability to actually be anonymous, or pass, or blend in, even when an object is in front of your face, or you are backlit. That is where I would like to take this, it will likely warrant a change in title. Stay tuned.