Aurélie Sorriaux

In Search of my Curls

Hair was and remains a portrait of civilisations; a depiction of a person’s family background, social status, power and wealth as well as an expression of self and individuality.

The project is an in-depth research questioning what is passed on in the family, what remains from our origin and how to identify with it. Being the only one in my family to have curly hair, I searched to portray my identity.

What defines the relationship of family, besides blood? Is it likeness, language, culture, or perhaps a set of presiding principles that come about from a culmination of all of the above? Nowadays, we are facing a universal question of our origin, searching for an answer about our roots. What I am? I am my nationality or my DNA? I am what my ancestors were and thus, who were they? The question of identity is inherent in any search for an origin.

With the research-driven mindset of a geologist, I investigated my family’s archive: tangible artefacts, photographs, letters, train tickets and the like. Calling up my family members’ memories, I passed onto them a list of questions I wish I asked to my ancestors from which I invented fictional exchanges with them: what would they have passed on to me? An attempt to be closer to my ancestors, however, the transmission is done by close relatives and that is often the only source of knowledge, the rest is in the imagination.

This research through the “fact”, the artefacts, and the “fiction”, the descendants, outlines the endeavour to delineate a person’s identity becomes a reflection upon a reflection.

The project goes along with the Gerrit Rietveld Academie 2020 thesis book ‘These talks I wish I had. These questions I would never dare to ask’.