The Barbershops

I’m living on the borderline of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in Brooklyn where it’s historically Black/Caribbean neighborhood. I’m Japanese and my husband is Haitian, grew up in Brooklyn, and we have a mixed child. Therefore, Black/Caribbean culture is a big part of my life.

Many businesses are hugely influenced by those cultures in my neighborhood although because of fast gentrification, many are disappearing day by day but some business such as beauty salons, nail salons and Barbershops seem to be stronger than other businesses, and surviving. I assume that my neighbors (I mean…long term residents here..) care about their fashion and hairstyle more than other group of people.

For some reasons, I’m very curious about Barbershop culture. That’s one of those iconic images that I love in this neighborhood. We have so many of those on the busiest streets, almost every couple blocks. Hair Tonic, shaving cream and Razors, etc…, Nothing is familiar, that’s the one mysterious and untouchable place for me. May be because it’s such a Men’s world that I’ll probably never known since I’m female.

My idea about Barbershop is more of a social club, a place to debate Politics, social issues, sports and family. Barbershops seem very homely and inviting, where young and old all go to this communication center to catch up and learn, it’s a cool hang out spot for men. I’m hoping to introduce and somehow help to preserve this great culture in this neighborhood.

I’ve been shooting photographs of Barbers, customers and shops (and I am going to visit all Barbershops in my neighborhood) and planning to audio-record the noise/sounds and shoot some moving images at Barbershops. I’ve been trying to engage with people there, therefore, I visit each shop more than couple times and normally I stay for 2-5hours at each visit, watch, chat and photograph them so I learn more about each shop’s characters. At the end, I’ll create an installation piece, consists those photographs and sounds.