It’s always exciting to see what acts the organizers of WOMADelaide come up with year after year, and this year they’ve gone slightly off script and invited Spanish street theatre group Osadia to come to Adelaide. Flamenco group, exotic musicians or a dance act? Nope! It’s a hair sculpturing where audience members are invited to be the showpieces in what looks like an exciting addition to the lineup.
Creator Alex Rendon formed the group in Barcelona in 1996 and it has been going strong ever since. We spoke to Alex about how it came about and what we can expect from their hair-raising performances at WOMADelaide. “The original idea came from a hairdressing promotion I did just after arriving in Barcelona. The initial idea was to promote myself as a hairdresser but it was an art launch that developed into a street art performance which you now see and I’m taking the project as far as my imagination will allow it,” Rendon says.
It takes a certain kind of person to be able to come up with the head turning designs that Osadia does, and there’s a specific criteria that Rendon looks for when selecting new performers to take part. “When I’m casting performers they need to know the simplest task like putting hair in a ponytail, which seems like an easy thing but actually isn’t. Once I can see that they good basic hand skills then we start wrapping wire around ponytails and then it’s their creative flair that takes over. It’s knowing space, creativity and structure.”
Having seen some of Osadia’s designs, it would be fair to say that it requires a bit of engineering know-how as well. Rendon agrees. “Oh absolutely! Actually none of the current performers are hairdressers, they’re performing artists.”
If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, check out their Youtube video of what exactly to expect from an Osadia show. It’s little wonder that the name ‘Osadia’ means audacious, or prudence in Spanish, and their work is truly amazing.
You might be thinking though, what has hair got to do with a world music festival? Fair call, but Rendon explains how the act adds to the eclectic environment of such an international event.
“The really good thing about Osadia appearing at WOMADelaide is that we make the public a part of the performance, which is the aspect that makes it a highlight at festivals and show. We’re not just entertaining a public that sit and watch, but the people that walk away from the stage with their creation actually take the show beyond the moment in a continuum.”
In choosing participants (or hair models), Rendon says they take an alchemist’s approach in choosing people with the objective of getting them out of their shells so it’s usually people that likely weren’t expecting it. “ I see it as a privilege to be asked to come up, and we really try to make people feel good. We look for those who don’t appear too outgoing, because we find that they come out of their shell under the spotlight. They realise the magic of hair and makeup makes them a more outgoing person, they feel like somebody else and that’s what we try to offer. On that, we try to work with heads and faces and not just hair…so, if you don’t have hair don’t think your safe!” Rendon says laughingly.
For Rendon, the ability to be able to take an ordinary person out of the public and to suddenly make them the centre of attention is his greatest reward.
“As I said, it’s really beautiful to get an ordinary person like a grandmother and turn them into a work of art and have everybody’s attention drawn to them, to have people wanting to have their photo taken with them, just giving them an experience that isn’t an everyday one.”
It’s nice to see that public perceptions of beauty aren’t the primary motivation behind Osadia, and that they like to break the rules of what constitutes being aesthetically pleasing.
“Our work is summed up in that it’s something that makes people happy!”
Sounds like a reasonable proposition to me!
You can catch Osadia around the grounds of WOMADelaide daily- they won’t be too hard to find one would imagine!
By Darren Hassan