Inspired by her participation in beauty pageants last year, Victoria Melody became fascinated by the origins of the hair that made up her glamorous hair extensions. Who are these women who donated their hair? Did they know what would happen to it when it was cut off? Did they care? These questions became the propulsion that took Melody around the world, looking for the source of her real, fake, human hair. It's factual performance art, infused with Melody's bubbly personality and the accounts of real women she met on her travels.
A very well-researched piece of performance art.
We really get to know Melody; the piece is littered with personal touches, such as her family nicknames, photos and even a sack full of her own hair. One of the women who sparks her pilgrimage is Melody's cousin, a self-confessed hair extension addict. Along her travels across India and to Russia, the main sources of human hair used in the UK, Melody has taken heart-breaking videos and photos of the factories, kiosks and temples which process this intimate, precious part of the human body, and the juxtaposition between that intimacy and the clinical nature of the settings is managed well by Melody. Dressed as a beaming, preened beautician, with frequent and visible wig changes, she is unassuming, down-to-Earth and empowered.
Occasionally, it feels like there are too many issues being addressed, so that and the focus of the piece becomes muddled; although racial judgments passing through airport security is a problem which should be discussed, it doesn't fit within the context of this piece. Melody has a very casual, unpretentious performance style, which puts us at ease, but she becomes so low in energy at times that the piece starts to drag.
This is a very well-researched piece of performance art, delivered with buckets of heart and a humour which doesn't take herself too seriously.