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”.