Only her hairdresser knows for sure

275-LIVE-SALONFaisal Abdu’Allah, a visiting artist and barber by trade, will be performing his “Live Salon” artist talk on Thursday, March 10 at Flagler College, where he sets up his barber chair and tools and cuts the hair of a willing participant. The event, organized by the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, draws on the singular community of the barbershop, where familiar conversation about politics, social issues, art, etc. is vital to the life of a neighborhood.

Utilizing photography, printmaking, video and performance, Abdu’Allah’s work mines representations of the art world, popular culture or specific cultural traditions, to touch on topics such as self-reflection, the search for social-awareness and the confrontation of long-established assumptions and stereotypes. Abdu’Allah owns “Faisal’s Barbershop” in northwest London and has performed “Live Salon” since 2006.

“(His work) is complexly involved with class, gender and commerce as much as race, and with craftsmanship as much as aesthetics,” wrote Rachel Newman and Kate Cowcher, project assistants and reviewers for a 2010 exhibition and performance at Stanford University.

“’Live Salon’ also compromises the intimate relationship between customer and barber, the close conversation between two men that is inherent in the unquestionably masculine zone of interaction on the barbershop floor,” they added. “As Abdu’Allah has stated, the emotional baggage that he acquires in a day of haircutting far outweighs the sweat of cutting hair. In the gallery space such emotional baggage is suppressed yet the familiarity of the barber chair, Abdu’Allah’s deliberately casual conversation, his easy manner and the democracy of the participatory performance enables people to liberate themselves from the behavioral norms of an art gallery.”

Abdu’Allah is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide, including “Squad: Calling of the Common Hero” (Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wis. and Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, Scotland) and “Chasing Mirrors” (National Portrait Gallery, London, 2009), and group exhibitions at venues such as the Sonoma Museum of Art (Santa Rose, Calif.), Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Academy of Art (London, England), among others.

This program is generously supported through a grant from The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. The March 10 event will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Gamache-Koger Theater in Flagler’s Ringhaver Student Center, located at 50 Sevilla St., St. Augustine.

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