Haircuts by Children is a performance developed by Darren O’Donnell of the Mammalian Diving Reflex in Canada. O’Donnell and Art in General work together with a number of children between the ages of eight and twelve and, in popular hair salons in Art in General’s neighborhood of Chinatown and Tribeca, to offer the public free haircuts by children on November 3, 2007 and November 10, 2007.
Haircuts by Children invites a consideration of children as creative and competent individuals whose aesthetic efforts should be trusted. The project takes up the belief that it’s important to consider that children should be permitted to participate politically. The idea that children should have access to the political process is, to many, as alien as the suggestion that children should be allowed access to our hair. Letting children cut hair whimsically references or evokes the kind of leap of faith, courage and understanding required to grant children deeper citizenship rights.
Founded in Canada in 1993 by Darren O’Donnell, Mammalian Diving Reflex engages with currents in the visual arts world called “relational”. This work interacts directly with the community, creating relationships and involving rigorously framed participation. Through their so-called Social Acupuncture wing, they create events that occur beyond the walls of the theatre in the community itself, engaging the social body in an aesthetic of civic engagement –the artistic use of the institutions of civil society, of community centres, schools, seniors’ centres, sports clubs, and the media. Civic engagement as an aesthetic uses the consensual participation of these institutions and individuals as material to create work that, seen from most angles, appears to be mostly not theatre or even art, but that takes glances at simple power dynamics and, for a moment, attempts to provide a glimpse of other ontological possibilities.
Haircuts by Children is produced by Art in General, and co-presented with PERFORMA07. This project is made possible, in part, by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with the generous support of the September 11th Fund.
PERFORMA is a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Part of PERFORMA’s mission is to present a biennial of visual art performance in New York City that illuminates the critical role of performance in the history of art as well as its enormous significance in the international world of contemporary art.
The PERFORMA05 biennial offered an exciting program of performances, exhibitions, symposia, and film screenings organized in collaboration with a consortium of leading museums, galleries, alternative spaces, and independent curators in New York. The first of its kind, PERFORMA05 was an enormous critical and popular success and set a new standard for the positioning of live performance in the international contemporary art world. Over 25,000 people attended sold-out and filled-to-capacity events at more than 20 venues across the city, activating and animating all of New York, from Harlem to Wall Street. PERFORMA was founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg. PERFORMA07, the second biennial of new visual art performance, will take place in New York City from November 1-20, 2007. www.performa-arts.org