Lost? Me, too. Hair Extension (Bag), 2020

Temishi Onnekikami

Vassar College

 

Lost? Me, Too. and Hair Extension (Bag) are two works addressing self-presentation.

How do we present ourselves to others? How do we share ourselves with others?

Lost? Me, Too. explores these questions by presenting myself and my life experiences as objective data. I listed dates, coordinates, streets, and cities with stencils and ink on pre-cut tabs of seemingly-ordinary flyers. Despite their common-place appearance, they represent the places and times I felt at home. I posted the flyers around my neighborhood: one on the street corner, one at a local high school, and another at a park. Lost? Me, Too. is a double-edged sword: at its core, it is an offering, a symbol of solidarity for other “lost ones” who may encounter the work. On the other hand, the work is almost completely indecipherable to anyone else. However, by sharing my homes—and by extension myself— with others, viewers who encounter Lost? Me, Too. share in my own experiences, even without being aware of it. Though they may be struggling to find their own places of belonging, for a brief moment, a sense of home is created between myself and the viewers.

Hair Extension (Bag), approaches presentability in physical appearances. The work renders my body, and more specifically my hair, which are both functional objects. Using acrylic hair yarn, I crocheted a bag attachable to my own hair through hair extensions. Hair Extension (Bag) tests the boundaries between design, artwork, and craft. It calls into question who gains from the constant demand of presentability from Black hair when the burden, cost, and time is placed on Black individuals? Throughout the course of my life, my hair has been treated as an object. At times as a coveted object, at others as an object of frustration, or an object of ridicule by both myself and others. For so long, I molded the presentation of my hair and myself to fit the expectation of others, a common narrative in a society that tells Black individuals to assimilate into the dominant way of being. In Hair Extension (Bag) it is I who stands to gain from my efforts, my time. The presentation of my hair is, finally, explicitly in my service.