• Dear Long Hair
  • Dear Long Hair
  • Dear Long Hair

ART+CULTURE: Photographer Irina Werning goes in search of Argentina’s long-haired women

For over a decade, Irina Werning has travelled her native Argentina in search of the country’s long-haired inhabitants. From big cities to remote mountain villages, the Buenos Aires based photographer literally combs the country looking for long-haired women to photograph for her ongoing series, Dear Long Hair. Werning, who discovers her subjects by distributing leaflets and even organising long hair competitions, admits that this is part of the thrill. “The process of finding them is half the ride I guess,” the photographer says, “I love going to them, wherever they are, and getting into their world. Travelling 1500 kilometres (Argentina is a long country!) because of hair can sound superficial, but it speaks about the culture of my country, our roots and the story of a hybrid culture that began thousands of years ago.”

Why do women in Argentina wear their hair longer than in most Western countries? Over time, Werning’s conversations with the women she photographed led her to uncover a multitude of answers to this question, as she learned how hair was entwined with indigenous traditions and beliefs, passed down from generation to generation. One such belief is that cutting one’s hair could lead to “cutting ones thoughts, or even falling into disgrace or near death”. Intrigued to learn more, Werning set out to research these traditions further but found little written on the subject. “Instead, I ended up finding elderly indigenous people who were willing to talk about their culture, and slowly began to understand the project more that way, through oral history.”

Visually, Dear Long Hair varies from documentary-style portraits to surreal, whimsical set-ups which support Werning’s playful and celebratory approach to her hirsute subject matter. “In a world where news tends to evolve around bad news, I am drawn to happy, sweet stories,” the photographer says, “even if they are small, invisible stories”.

"I am drawn to happy, sweet stories, even if they are small, invisible stories"
Irina Werning
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF HAIR
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF HAIR
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF HAIR
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF HAIR
  • ANTHROPOLOGY OF HAIR