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Photographed from behind, the women in Tara Bogart’s images remain anonymous, yet the portraits are hugely revealing.

Consisting of over 100 portraits, the subjects of ‘A Modern Hair Study’ are all women in their twenties. However, this is where the similarities end. With their faces hidden, the focus shifts to what is revealed – the colour and style of their hair, the slope of their shoulders, tattoos, piercings and jewellery. Speaking about what these details reveal about us, Bogart states, “hair can be a signifier of culture, style, identity, and youth, but I was also interested in the women’s backs and the indentations of clothing that remained after they disrobed. The combination of hair styles and the shapes of their shoulders are indicators of a generation”.

Tara Bogart- asymmetrical pixie

The series was inspired by a photograph taken in 1856 by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, who also worked under the pseudonym ‘Nadar’. The image, called ‘Hair Study’, depicts a young woman photographed from behind with a cloth draped around her shoulders, and an ornate clip securing her long hair. Inspired to create a contemporary interpretation of the image, Bogart found that this soon grew into a much larger body of work as “it became clear that one image wouldn’t show the complexities of young women in the 21st century”.

Tara Bogart Gwenn Haell- A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart- Pauline for A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart- Alexis for A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart_1_Marjo
“Hair can be a signifier of culture, style, identity, and youth”
Tara Bogart
Tara Bogart- Laura for A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart- Kat for A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart- Jeannette for A Modern Hair Study
Tara Bogart- Alyssa for A Modern Hair Study

Yet in spite of all the contemporary details, there is something simultaneously timeless about the portraits. This is largely due to the oval shaped framing of the images, which is reminiscent of lockets containing photographs – a popular fashion accessory during the Victorian era. This seems to reference the original influence of Nadar’s photograph, a historical continuation which Bogart acknowledges, “I am very interested in the modern young woman, both as she exists today and what history has embedded in her”.

Hazel Hair – Tara Bogart

Tara Bogart is represented by Elizabeth Houston Gallery
Emma de Clercq
Images courtesy of Tara Bogart

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