Botho Project Space, with the support of the French Institute, is proud to present from 9 September to 2 October 2021, Royal Hair Salon by Nikiwe Dlova, a grand statement of African pride and a restored sense of luxury and royalty with an art exhibition that elevates the influence of African hairstyles to an evolved interpretation of grandeur and richness.
The golden thread from ancient civilization to urban African culture has been hair. It plays a significant role in symbolizing one’s family background, social status, spirituality, tribe, and marital status. Royal Hair Salon is a celebration of the evolution of identity, culture, and craftsmanship using the creative language of synthetic hair extensions.
The show brings Nikiwe’s anthropological vision to life, aiming to preserve the ongoing human story told by the craftmanship of hair through needle work, embroidery, weaving and creative hairstyling. With the hope of reigniting a passion for the practice of hair in the youth of Africa, the versatility of Nikiwe Dlova’s medium opens a field of possibilities for all people to connect and engage around cultural and spiritual traditions.
Though hair plays a communal role by making a social and spiritual statement, it is inherently a deeply personal experience. For Nikiwe, hair is meditative work and is a means to transfer positive energy and a prayer to another. The show is curated in a way for visitors to reflect on their own hair journey.
Royal Hair Salon is also a declaration of the strength and positivity of the Black identity. Historically, hair has been stripped of its essential nature, with attempts to sever the Black community from the expression of culture through hair. Nikiwe Dlova’s exhibition appreciates and praises the potent beauty of hair and the importance of protecting and preserving Blackness through braiding. Hairstyles birthed through various braiding techniques are a communication of resistance and community. The continuity of braiding has been a mark of Black resilience. Braiding techniques are a source of strength and a symbol of the creativity that we show to the world. Communities have come together through the messages which braided hair relays. Current braiding styles incorporate various cultures; however, the final style will always carry the creative communicative language of a particular community.
The exhibition is enhanced by the collaborative incorporations of Andile Buka, John Baloy and Sindiso Nyoni. It incorporates the power of digitisation as Nikiwe consistently pushes and interlaces timeless hairstyle techniques with the modern age, propelling the exhibition into the future. Our Botho website houses the intricate research done by Nikiwe for the show, allowing one to fully immerse in the richness and beauty of the history of braiding and how it is powerfully translated into the Royal Hair Salon.
The Royal Hair Salon has been built with the support of the French Institute.
“Our mission is to support multi-disciplinary art and cultural projects; and The Royal African Salon, achieves this through multiple mediums. It is important for us to support a project that celebrates African heritage in all its magnificence. We know that this collaboration will have a positive and long-lasting impact on the audience.”- Selen Daver, Cultural Attaché for the French Embassy of South Africa.
Nikiwe Dlova biography: Nikiwe Dlova is a Hair artist from Diepkloof, Soweto. She studied Clothing Management at University of Johannesburg, her love for fashion made her explore another element of her identity which is hair, she started her brand ownURcrown in 2018 to explore art and identity in hairstyling, headpieces, fashion and lastly contemporary hair art tapestry pieces/artworks which showcases how hair extensions can be used as a textile form by weaving, sewing braided hair extensions by hand to create a visual story. She is interested in how people express themselves through their hair, not only limiting how they style it but how they interact with hair in their environment and in their clothing. Combining history, design and culture helps her to tell her story of how versatile hair is without limitations.
Image credit John Baloy