The inspiration for this installation was drawn from a moment in the artist’s life that fixed itself in her memory: her mother cutting the five-year old Gaussi’s hair so that the young girl would appear older, allowing her to leave the country with her aunt – and without her parents. This same event was also chronicled in Gaussi’s collaborative work with Nicolas Bourquin: a type of graphic novel, an extract of which is displayed here. For Sitara Hamza was inspired by this memory, but the work is intended to be more universal. Almost everyone has a memory or personal experience connected to hair, and the artist invites viewers to revisit their own memories as evoked through this installation.
The hair-like strands are interwoven with sections of scarves purchased in a market in Karachi, which, according to the writing on them, were intended for a woman called Sitara Hamza. These fabric pieces are used by women in India as decoration and to visually lengthen their hair. The braids are created using the intricate and time-consuming macramé technique, which is thought to have originated in the ancient Middle East. Arranged in an overlapping, rhizomatic structure, they become intertwined with memory and notions of belonging, while simultaneously evoking the complex diasporic experiences of the artist.
Jeanno Gaussi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and lives and works in Berlin. Her work engages with mechanisms of remembrance, the search for identity, and the social and cultural processes associated with them. Using a narrative concept as a jumping-off point, she creates installations that include video, photography, objects, and texts. Gaussi has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta (13) and the 12th Havana Biennale.