_MG_9364_k ‘EXTENSIONS’ deconstructs female beauty – focussing on female hair and how it is integral to sexual empowerment and perceived notions of beauty, as well as its curious position as an object of repression in religion.


Hair is often perceived as the most erotic and sensual aspect of a woman. Women, find themselves judged on their styling and maintenance of their hair. Hair can be used to represent sexual identity, sexuality, social interests and individuality.

In religion, hair is often covered e.g in Islamic culture covering hair de-emphasizes a woman’s sexuality and aligns her with a more respectful and modest way of being. While, Orthodox Jewish women will often wear synthetic-hair wigs, over their actual hair – in order to abide by their religious beliefs.

‘EXTENSIONS’ examines the balance between sexual expression and repression – it is an exploration of femininity, where a delicate conformity is always teetering on destruction and a much wilder, female freewill threatens to break through.

Stephanie Elaine Black performs a series of choreographed rituals, similar to the Zar dance. Women in Middle Eastern countries perform the Zar dance to ward away evil spirits. The dance sees them whip their hair wildly from side-to-side and is regarded as a way for women to let out suppressed emotions. They often dance into a possessed and trance-like state.

Ribbon is an integral part of Black’s masquerade and sexual posturing: a synthetic material that becomes an extension of her body and co-conspirator in reflecting feminine rituals and social conformity.

EXTENSIONS’ is autobiographical and attempts to break down the idea that women are passive receivers of beauty – highlighting their control of its power and proposing physical strength as a strand of feminine beauty.

 EXTENSION has been performed at Month of Performance Art Berlin, May 2015 & CREATurE Live Art, Lithuania in June.  

“Stephanie Black eventually begins trying to free herself of her entrapment, blowing from inside against the weight of the black ribbons, violently tossing them like a horse whipping its tail. Succeeding finally, she cuts herself free from the art work and hangs it on a nail, now empty of its living and trembling human content.”

“Ein Geisterbahn!” performance notes from philip kevin brehse, Month of Performance Art Berlin, Plateau Gallery 2015 http://cargocollective.com/uber-teuchter

Images by Greta Labanauskaite, ‘Extensions’, CREATurE Live Art, Kaunas, Lithuania, June 2015