African artist Laetitia Ky, 22, transforms her hair into fantastic sculptures as a hirsute form of socially-conscious art and, sometimes, just for fun.
In the Ivory Coast of her childhood, "the norm was to straighten your hair. So when I found the natural movement, I was fascinated. That's when my hair became important for me," she said.
Today Ky wears long extensions, adjusting their length depending on the design she wants to create. She sculpts by herself, using little more than wire, wool, a needle and thread. Ky never knows how much time she'll need to complete a project: so far, she said, a single piece has taken anywhere from 20 minutes to up to three hours...
Underlying it all, though, is a desire to promote a vision of African beauty grounded in pre-colonial aesthetic traditions; a commitment to body-positivity; and a well-defined feminist politics.
"Sexism exists everywhere, but in Ivory Coast there's still an attitude that women aren't supposed to be ambitious. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mom did everything on her own. So, it was hard for me to accept, later on, when I started hearing that women belong in the kitchen. I think it's really important to spread a message of equality," Ky said.
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