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Lipstick Building

Meschac Gaba (b. 1961) Lipstick Building, 2004 Braided artificial hair and mixed media; Wood on pedestal, artificial hair, coins 34 × 9 × 9 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase made possible by gifts from Anne Ehrenkranz, New York and Nancy Lane, New York 2005.5

For the series “Tresses a.k.a the Wig Buildings,” Meschac Gaba worked with West African hair braiders to create elaborate sculptures of synthetic hair fashioned to resemble buildings. This work is based on the 1986 “Lipstick Building,” designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, in midtown New York City. Countering postcolonial power structures and stereotypes about Africa and Africanness, Gaba merges Western skyscrapers and traditional West African hair culture to make way for new, global ideas of contemporaneity.