Artwork made predominantly from Kani Kamil's own hair is being displayed at the Woman Made Gallery (WMG) in Chicago for the 18th International Open exhibition, a juried group competition and exhibition featuring works by 33 female artists.
Masculine Hanger is part of a series of artist works that Kani is currently working on in an attempt to give voice to the experiences of Kurdish women.
For Iraqi-born Kani, hair is a powerful and controversial material to use in her art. Kani said, "Revealing hair is the main point I want to present in my work. In Iraq, religious rule demands that all women cover their hair, so it is an extremely meaningful medium to work with in protesting against the violence and oppression of women in Kurdish society."
One of Kani's favourite pieces remains Feminine Activity, which she created using her own hair to knit the 'roof' of a corridor. Kani hopes that while walking underneath this roof of hair, the audience will experience how powerful natural human hair is.
Although hair is a powerful feminist tool, in art, as a symbol of power, gender and fetish, Kani also enjoys using her own hair because of the transformation process it represents. From a material that is naturally shed by the body to a work of art put on display, she feels that this exposes the relationship between nature and culture, and the construction of gender roles in Kurdish society.
Speaking about how it feels to have her work included in the 18th international open show in WMG Kani told Middlesex, "It makes me so proud to have had my work shortlisted for this show because the gallery has such a good history."
After the exhibition, Kani has plans to continue with the series of artwork that she is developing, of which Masculine Hanger is one. The next will be a performance piece that Kani is currently working on.