Opening: Thursday 5 March 2015 7pm – 10pm?6 March – 31 March 2015
Where: DOPEstore?95 Commissioner Street Marshalltown Johannesburg
Woza Sisi is an ongoing body of work that explores a group of women working as street hairstylists at Kerk Street market, in Johannesburg CBD. Woza Sisi has collaborated with DOPEstore as part of a series of cultural monthly events hosted at the concept store to develop visual arts within the fashion sector.
DOPE, which is an acronym for Designer Original Products Enterprise, is a retail store that was founded by Andile Cele in 2009. The store offers premium designed products. DOPEstore strives to work with different creatives in the fields of art, fashion and music. “We feel that art plays a vital role, and its a medium that hasn’t been exploited enough within the youth culture” says Andile. These series of events are aimed at celebrating art, fashion and music. “We are excited to collaborate with young brands or artists in the scene”.
DOPEstore feels that Woza Sisi will appeal to their clientele. It exposes hardworking women who execute artistry in a form of hairstyles daily. “Their contribution to street culture is overlooked”. The photography exhibition will also launch Woza Sisi merchandise to be revealed on the opening night, which will be available at the store throughout the duration of the exhibition. Also, two guests will have an opportunity to have their hair styled by one of the street hairstylists who participated in the project.
About Woza Sisi?
Woza Sisi is a photo series exploring how women street hairstylists negotiate, navigate and shape the complex demarcated trading zone. It looks into ways in which the women position themselves; how they use and negotiate urban spaces. The women are placed in groups and have a block leader who makes sure they adhere to the informal street trading by-laws of the city of Johannesburg. The hairstylists are required to occupy the space that was allocated to them and also maintain a pollution free environment. This network forms a community of women sharing ideas, skills and helping each other when clients’ hair needs to be completed urgently.
Some of the women have been trading at Kerk Street market for up to 19 years. These women come from different backgrounds. They are self-employed. Their income is unstable; it is dependent on weather conditions and month end, which is the busiest time of the month. Amidst the buzz of Kerk Street, one cannot miss the groups of women hairstylists each having their mobile studio comprising of a chair and marketing boards depicting types of hairstyles they can execute.
Visibility is important for the hairstylists; they have to call potential clients in a persuasive way – woza sisi, woza uzobona, woza nice. They are also, expected to be patient, polite and understanding. It is important for the hairstylists to have satisfied clients and be able to produce value at a minimal cost. Building relationships is fundamental to growing their clientele. Business is normally scarce as the hairstylists are often locked in a tight competition for customers.
A number of hairstylists at Kerk Street market aspire to have their own salons; but until then Kerk Street is what they have to lure and persuade potential clients – woza sisi, woza uzobona,?woza nice.