about the piece
The “Four Non Blondes” project takes an essay by US author Claudia Rankine as an opportunity to explore the phenomenon of “blondness”. C. Rankine was asked at a dinner with female university lecturers how they should react when their Black students bleach their hair blonde. She was unable to give a clear answer and began to deal with this topic in the long term. This resulted in an essay about blondness and the ambivalences associated with it.
Blonde hair originated around 11,000 years ago as a genetic mutation in northern Europe. The sun’s rays are weaker here and light-coloured hair allows more vitamin D to be absorbed through the hair. Only two per cent of all people have naturally blonde hair. It is therefore a relatively rare phenomenon, but what is rare quickly becomes desirable. So people started early on to help nature along by colouring their hair.
In a way, this created a cultural history of blondness that is full of contrasts. The most well-known of all stereotypes says that blondes are rather simple-minded and sexually available. Contrast this with the fact that 48 per cent of female CEOs of companies within the S&P 500 stock index are blonde. Even the majority of US university directors are blonde.
They are a feature of European people with light skin and have thus also become a symbol of whiteness. There is no doubt that the bleaching of hair makes a wide variety of statements. It can be a sign that the wearer has risen into the established social strata, such as Hillary Clinton. But it can also be a sign of rebellion and independence. Being blonde here becomes more of an invitation to be looked at and respected. Rankine speaks of “complicit freedom”, meaning that the choice to go blonde is always both a personal decision but also informed by what society defines as “desirable”.
In this project, we would like to explore the many nuances of blondness with a mixed cast of “non-blondes”. This will include both the cultural history of blonde hair and the personal experiences of the performers.
Concept: Christoph Winkler | By and with: Lisa Rykena, Sophie Prins, Shelmith Øseth, Mariana Tzouda | Performance: Kyle Kidd | Music: Tian Rotteveel | 3D-programming: Vadim Epstein, Matthias Härtig | Costume: Marie Akoury | Video Editing & Graphic: Gabriella Fiore | Technical direction: Fabian Eichner | Sound: Björn Stegmann | Production management: Laura Biagioni
A production by Company Christoph Winkler in co-operation with SOPHIENSÆLE.
Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion and the Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.