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‘Some people are freaked out’: how Laetitia Ky tackles abortion, sexism and race with her extraordinary hair

By Nesrine Malik

31 Mar 2022 · 8 min read

Laetitia Ky makes sculptures out of hair, although I’m not sure the word “sculpture” accurately conveys just how dynamic her art is. Her pieces are moments, scenes, statements, emotions, rendered in black afro textured hair. Ky is central to the art. Her sculptures can’t be displayed on a wall or a table. They can’t be bought or taken on tour. Every piece is on her head, extending high up into the space above and around her, a growth of coils and curls that she twists into shapes that seem unfathomable.

There are no gimmicks, technological cheats or shortcuts. Ivory Coast-born Ky, 25, doesn’t even create the sculpture on a flat surface or stand and then attach them to her head. She links hair extensions directly to her own natural fro and then, using a mirror, proceeds to mould both into shapes. If what she wants to build is particularly complicated, she uses wires and glue. This is even more remarkable considering the fact that her pieces range from the bucolic, to the domestic and the political. There are sculptures of household chores, where Ky’s hair extends into a vacuum cleaner she then grips to clean with; others where Ky is the body of an alligator, crawling out of a swamp, her hair the alligator’s head. There are more shocking ones, where Ky’s hair is a womb – on each side, instead of ovaries, there are two middle fingers – or a vagina with period blood pouring from it.

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