Entangled is a collaborative AR altar, created between Chinese artist Qianqian Ye and Li Ly’s Hair Salon in San Francisco Chinatown. This piece entangles a fading custom of Chinese women's liberation and immigrant stories with hair.
This project pays homage to 'Self-Comb Women' (自梳女, ZìShūNǚ), a tribe of women who vowed to choose independence over marriage by rolling their braids into a chignon (a married women's hairstyle) on their own. The now vanishing self-comb women culture was a proto-feminist act of protest against oppressive feudal system originating from the Pearl River Delta, where Li Ly is also from.
In this altar, braids and hair buns flourish on a tree like living organisms, with Cantonese opera playing in the background. A comb and a silver hairpin (银钗, YínChā, name of the artist’s grandmother) are embedded in the hair. The flowers blooming in between are textured with a historical silver letter (银信, YínXìn), a combination of remittance certificate (‘silver’) and family letter (‘letter’). The silver letter was sent in 1928 by an immigrant from an address at the same street as the current Li Ly’s Hair salon, to their shared hometown Taishan, one of the biggest and the earliest emigrant hubs in China.