Jeannette Ehlers' giant "hair piece" in the form of a giant "fro", consists of a slowly spinning ball made of synthetic afro hair.
The Afro appears as a recurring symbol of liberation in the field of black counterculture, especially promoted by the pan-African civil rights movements of the 1960s.
With its gigantic scale, the "fro" fills almost the entire shop window, appearing at once as an artificial object and a living being or an organism. Disruptively, it intervenes in the commercial space that the fashion store and the shopping street are. It hangs there, both trapped and in constant motion, and carries within it a threat or a promise to expand. Will it end up blowing up the shop window, taking root in the asphalt and spreading to the surrounding community?
Like the globe, We’re Magic. We’re Real #2 rotates around its own axis and creates an intense dizzying atmosphere that reminds us that the world is on its knees and that we are in a time of needed counter-narratives and alternative visions.
We’re magic. We’re real #3 (These Walls) - live performance at Nørgaard Paa Strøget, 12 November 2021
Five black women are with their hair in long “cornrows” connected to the building as if they grew out of the walls. The constellation of the braids that mix with the climbing plant along the facade of the house creates a poetic metaphor for the relationship between culture and nature, body and landscape, history and the present.
To the sound of the Atlantic Ocean the women move slowly back and forth in the square in front of the store. Quietly but insistently, they call on the attention of passers-by. The bodies that follow the rhythm of the waves defy the unconscious routes of the shoppers through the streak, making visible how Western capitalism, prosperity, and consumerism draw threads to triangular trade, slavery, and plantation systems. While the women's joined hair points to a shared existence, their repeated movements take the form of a ritual pointing to the ancestors and spirituality within the African diaspora. Equal parts of grief and strength are present in the performance, which expresses a longing for life outside the plantation system, and for the forest as a literal and symbolic free space.
We’re magic. We’re real #3 (These Walls) speaks subtly to black existence and to a collective resistance to colonialism in society.
Jeannette Ehlers began her series We’re Magic. We’re Real in 2020.
We’re Magic. We're Real uses hair as an important identity marker in the African diaspora.
The use of hair is a simple but powerful gesture that addresses the History of Denmark's involvement in the transatlantic enslavement trade and points to the historical atrocities that black people face, as well as their resistance against them.