Holly Block explores the powers of both abundance and lack of hair through performance, video, photography and installation.
My Work is self-disclosing and self-referential, I think of my art as giving voice to memories that have become stuck in my body. I dig deeply until I hit a nerve, and this expression of art dislodges them. The resulting work results in a variety of media including photography, film, sculpture, and installations. Once a memory has been distilled into an artwork, it becomes contained, controlled, less able to wreak havoc within my subconscious.
A major theme that has evolved in my oeuvre is around hair and the significance of hair. This has sprung from an in-depth exploration of my own experience of being a young female who developed “Alopecia Univerale" at the age of 29. Alopecia Universale means total hair loss. I had no hair on the head, my body or face, no eyebrows or eyelashes. I was told by my doctors that the percentage of hair I had left on my body was directly correlated to the percentage of hair that would grow back; namely zero. Unlocking the trauma of losing my hair, though the short film Flick and Cut, 2015 (screen shots and photographs from the film featured here) I explore the behaviours associated with having hair with three female performers who are bald and semi nude. The performers enact a series of gestures associated with having hair: a masculine fringe flick, flirtatiously twirling, tossing hair in a gesture of sexual power. The film then uses both literal and abstracted gestures to illustrate how people use their hair to build a sense of ‘Self” , an identity, both internally and externally. The film prompts us to explore why hair is such a profound building block in the construct of not just our external persona (or performance), but our internal sense of self, the part of us that makes us feel like ourselves.
My work explores how odd it is that a pile of dead cells, called “hair” can have so much power within a woman’s sense of femininity, sexuality, belonging and personal power.
Holly Block is a Melbourne based Artist, currently studying at the VCA.