Elena Fajt

Punishment Without a Crime

Gallery MC, New York

November 15 – November 30

“Punishment without a crime,” a critique of misogyny and social values, takes as its point of departure the concrete historical event that took place immediately after the liberation  – the punishment of several tens of thousands of women by cutting their hair. These were women who socialized or flirted with the occupying soldiers, which was considered a sufficient reason for their public humiliation and punishment. Viewed in this light, hair-cutting appears as a form of social castration of women.

Taking photographic evidence as an aesthetic starting point and drawing on patriarchal violence against innocent women, the author problematizes and transcends historical traumas, cultural constraints and ideological controversies. Hair as a symbol of femininity is shifted from women’s bald heads to their bodies and dresses; the disgraced heads bear haircuts of “decent” women; their public exposure and shame are overlaid with cult fashion items dating from 1945 and later, filling metaphorically what was forcibly taken away from them.  In “Punishment without a crime” all these unfortunate women have finally regained their hair, their dresses, their beauty and pride.

Elena Fajt is a visual artist and a costume designer. From 2000 she’s been working  on her ongoing project Hairsense. In this project – with series of installations, sculptures, object, hair-dresses and public projects – she is exploring aesthetic, symbolic and cultural meanings of human hair. She also  has used hair as a way of opening and entering issues linked social, political and cultural contexts. Fajt has exhibited her work nationally and  internationally (USA, Germany, Italy, Croatia). She made more than forty costume designs for theater and dance performances staged at home and abroad and for movies. She works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Ljubljana.

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