The space is demarcated by ropes. The kind used to cattle fans during autograph signings in malls, or to section off the VIP section at exclusive clubs. Here, they separate a portion of the gallery space, equipped with a shiny silver backdrop in front of which a large head hovers up in space, covered in long, lavish Rapunzel-like blonde hair that extends to the ground and softly blows in the whiff of an invisible ventilator. It should be immediately apparent that not everyone is welcome on the other side of the rope—heightened social anxiety and a lifetime of being conditioned by invisible group dynamics has taught you that much—but if there had been any remaining doubts, they would have been diminished by the presence of a group of beautiful young women, gyrating and posing in slow motion beside the shiny poles that hold the ropes. Like a fair and ancient species, sparsely clad and heavily done up, they present themselves in front of the blonde-haired totem, occasionally adulating it by slowing dancing in its long mane, rubbing against the golden streaks and gauchely bobbing along to the rhythmic techno beats that echo in the space. Their existence is both endlessly jaded and instantly dated, their vein and self-absorbed looks a sign of a desperate clinging to the assurance of exclusivity and luxury promised by the ropes. As with most stylistic indicators of exclusivity, you know the promise of being in on something that not everybody is privy to is part and parcel of the attraction—but you also know that the attraction is fleeting, as most things aspirational, once worn in, trickled down, and appropriated by the mainstream, tend to lose their spell.
Entitled It, the blonde-haired sculpture originated as part of the 2011 performance “Truly Yours” by the Swedish-born, Berlin-based artist Anna Uddenberg. The piece set the scene for a body of work that Uddenberg would develop over the next years, questioning the tropes of female identification, belonging and self worth and how they are conditioned and mediated though the feedback loop of consumer culture. “The early performative works where all about looking at how social contracts can act as implied manuscripts with specific roles, depending on context, and interpreting these scriptures, changing the role of characters in relation to each other,” Uddenberg explains. “I was interested in testing where the breakpoints lie between the personal versus the professional, and especially how performed authenticity and genuineness can feel and look.”