Hair has a strange fascination. As Seinfeld once famously joked, it’s a prize atop your head, but once an errant strand falls, quelle horror! Dirt, disease, the dangerous breakdown of human barriers! Like society, en masse it seems acceptable, but in isolated instances, it’s suddenly unbearable. Adelaide artist Sarah Field’s sculptures tread this fine line between repulsion and attraction. Long locks flow from antique shower heads (A little bit of death, 2009), while dark curly tresses are tangled twixt the blades of beaters (There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, 2009). At an empty tea party, saucers spill fine hairs alongside cupcakes of coiffure (the Hairy Tarts series, 2009). There is an unmistakeable air of the intimate, as if you have stumbled upon multiple private moments frozen in time. Domestic paraphernalia paired with some kind of soft sensuality (in this case, hair) generally come with overtures of femininity and/or feminism. This collection is no exception, and it’s interesting that a young female artist (Field is 27) still feels the need to explore such, some may argue, antiquated representations of gender. In particular, Hairy Tarts call to mind Surrealist Meret Oppenheimer’s fur cup and saucer from 1936 – at the time a groundbreaking piece of found object unafraid to flirt with erotica. The pieces work best when most ambiguous – the sinks at which anyone could stand, the wash basins in which guiltily swirl the hairs of all humanity.
Until Feb 26, Michael Reid Gallery, 44 Roslyn Gdns, Elizabeth Bay, 8353 3500 or michaelreid.com.au