Laurent Muschel has travelled all over the Tropics, photographing the intimacy surrounding this special world of hair salons. The series took off in the “Afro part” of Brussels called Matonge (the name comes from a surrounding in Kinshasa) and then continued in East and West Africa: Addis Abeba and Shire (Ethiopia), Abidjan and Grand Bassam (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana), and Banjul (The Gambia). It expanded to further tropical areas: Dhaka (Bangladesh), Havana (Cuba) and Jericoacoara (Brazil). The journey was accompanied by many short cuts and extensions along the way…
Laurent Muschel likes to photograph the small details and gestures, inviting us to come closer and explore further. At the back of these hair salons, people are eating, talking, sleeping, or watching football matches on small TV screens. The multitude and diversity of the scenarios in Laurent Muschel’s pictures are part of his narrative principle. By doing so, he opens up an often overlooked world.
But in reality, hair is the pretext for something else: a pure photographic pleasure where a pair of scissors becomes more than a simple tool without soul. Through his pictures, the photographer transforms the business of hairdressing, which appears at first glance as “banal”, into a fetish ceremony. He turns the salons into churches, the chairs into thrones, the counters or tables with their hair dressing accessories into altars. For this is how the spaces in Laurent Muschel’s photographs can be viewed; the photographer kneels down before beauty and its creation, an admiration with which we join.