Historically the Chinese had (and still have) a peculiar notion of beauty, which reveals the special relationship they have with their bodies. Hair, according to Confucius, do not belong to the man but to his ancestors, so cutting them would be both a terrible blasphemy and a self-mutilation of one’s body. Moreover, from ancient till recent Chinese history, both the length and style of the hair is associated with social status, ethnicity, even political beliefs. Similarly, growing long fingernails and thus partially disabling one’s hands, meant and still means in some parts of China, that the person belongs to a specific class, hence he or she does not have the need to do any manual labor.
With references to Chinese philosophy and tradition, hair men and bearded ladies, the circus and the opera, Marianna Ignataki’s works deal with issues of gender, identity, exclusion and otherness, along with concepts such as beauty and the grotesque.