Wenda Gu’s (谷文達) United Nations installation series explores globalization and the relationship between the sense of self and the sense of place. It was an ongoing project which began in 1993 and continued until 2004, divided into 22 individual ‘national monuments’ as Gu has called them. These have been installed around the world, including the United States, France, Poland, England, South Africa, Israel, Australia, Japan, Canada, China, Taiwan, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy. These site-specific ‘monuments’ involved the use of human hair and cryptic calligraphy/pseudo-languages. More than one million people have contributed their hair which were then pressed or weaved into bricks, carpets,curtains, and braids, and the blending of which Gu sees as a metaphor for the mixture of races that will eventually unite humanity into what he calls “a brave new racial identity.” The characters which Gu uses are often old characters from an ancient Chinese script or a fusion of the native language in which the installation/monument resides with Chinese characters.
Gu states, “By utilizing the real hair of the local living population, I’m strongly relating to their historical and cultural contexts, to create monumental installations and land arts to capture each country’s identity, building on profound events in each country’s history. These individual installations are national monuments to the whole art project of United Nations. The notions such as transculturalism, transnationalism, hybridization are goals of the final ceremony of the project. In a few years into twenty-first century, a giant wall will be composed solely from the pure human hair from the integration of the national monument events. The human hair woven world pseudo-languages co-existing on the wall.”
Images here are of United Nations: Babble of the Millennium (1999) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A site-specific installation. made entirely of human hair into nonsensical pseudo-Chinese, English, Hindi, Arabic and synthesized English-Chinese scripts.
75 feet high x 34 feet in diameter
Source: Gu Wenda