'hair wars' is a celebration of detroit’s most creative black hairdressers
Christine Hahn's portraits capture the Afrocentric beauty movement's fantastical show at MoMA PS1.
Photography Christine Hahn
“My hair be lookin’ cold when my weave is in/We at the hair wars baby, we at it again.” This is the theme song of “Hair Wars”, an informal stage show showcasing the imaginative, fantastical designs of Detroit’s top black hairdressers. We’re not in Detroit anymore, however — the rap song is blaring out at Long Island City’s MoMA PS1, where “Hair Wars” is staging its latest showcase. Since 1985, the makeshift celebration of black creativity has taken place in Detroit nightclubs and venues, and by the 90s, held a seminal spot in Detroit’s black community. An archive video of a 90s show features models wearing sculptural, baroque weaves turned into spider-webs and The Eiffel Tower.
“Hair Wars” was celebrated by the art community on Sunday, when it staged the most unapologetically black event MoMA PS1 has probably ever hosted. i-D was there to capture the otherworldly hair creations of legendary Detroit hairstylists Wishbone, Dave Ray “The Beauty Surgeon,” Keith Matthews, and Joanne Petit-Frere. Witness how weaves and black hair can be turned into sculptures just as surreal as a Picasso bust, or classically beautiful as Michelangelo's David. These designs might not be natural hair, but that doesn’t mean they are not just as beautiful.