Lauren Klein / Aesthetic Autonomy Studio

Mexico City / California | Practitioner, Researcher, Sculptor + Stylist | @laurencklein
Project Title: 
Identies/Ideas in Artists Work: Black and indigenous spaces, accessible, Women representation, Digital spaces, Performance, Public Process, Research, Learnings & Decision Making, Unconventional mix materials, public and social truth in identities
Location: both in Mexico City and in California

Making the effort to understand our own nature (corporal, spiritual, relational), including our hair texture, body, how we adorn ourselves and move our bodies. These are powerful ways to understand ourSelf: the reality of our personal human existence and how we relate to everyone around us. The Self BENEATH colonialist, racist, patriarchal socialization. Who are you beneath social codes? In my work, I ask: What do we want to carry with us into our collective futures? We are in an era of necessary change and can be guided by self-inquiry, unlearning/relearning, awareness of self, intentional choices, building bridges, and a redefined identity. I believe we need to radically accept ourselves in order to begin to see where we are positioned in time and evolution. When we deny our nature and body, it becomes that much easier to deny the nature and body of another.

How do you reclaim the collective sensory experiences that will tell the story of your community? 

By acknowledging personal and cultural histories and using them as the building material for Monuments to intentional, flexible futures. Historically monuments have been established to commemorate - to remember - and in this work, it is a living monument - - it is not something I’m creating exactly, although that’s part of it - it is a framework and concept to step into - facilitation that invites individual’s (and the viewers) experience of themselves to express as social practice, as public work, a monument. Beauty is a social and personal experience. We perform our aesthetic, our identity, self-image our self-image, which can be seen as a monument to what we believe. On a sensory level…it is the literal experience of the body - the hair - the approach to hair work as energy work, aesthetic as a transformative tool that contributes to intentional futures. It can be empowerment.

Monuments are always about a reflection - we ask ourselves if we feel something or what it is we’re supposed to feel. And in that sense- we know whether we are being included or excluded from the particular history or monument - and in what way - how does the monument position us?  To shift the idea of a monument to -a living present moment - YOU or Them - I or We, our very existence and will to express is a monument.

The community that the work represents or speaks to is plural,  large, and not precisely claimed - I’m unsure how to define it and I don’t feel it’s my place to say I’m representing anyone or any community. I see my work as activism - and I intend for it to be in service to communities that have been sided by the dominant culture. I also think the work serves and is a tiny way to cleanse away the internalization of the dominant culture - of the humanist era - of whiteness as the normal - I strive for my work to create a space that exists outside of these old and harmful paths - I seek that my work provides a secret strength for the fight - the constant battle for the right to exist. Hair and beauty are biopolitical, personal, collective, enculturated, racialized, fetishized, projected, desired, hated, and revered. Beauty is local, global, familial, individual…supported by the community. We are all subject to our relationship with beauty and hair.

Who is your audience? How do you imagine your work will inspire change?

My goal is to influence and impact the way "mainstream" thinks and makes choices, to bring perspective to what our self-image is, as in, what makes it - how it depends on who’s watching, what perspective we are seeing ourselves from - and the values and enculturated beliefs in which we live. I want my work to provide a space for people to contemplate that in our everyday rituals, our daily practices - the most banal aspects of our lives that may seem unimportant or insignificant - there is a great power- that power and energy - what we aspire to - (our body-monument: self-image)  we/us are monuments to beliefs - to either histories or futures or encapsulating both. So this brings a question - what are we doing, consuming - not just products, but also services - and how are those services/experiences/interactions contributing to the future.

There is a second audience that this work is in direct conversation with, and that is the beauty industry and beauty industry workers. My work calls for new approaches, new services, new perspectives. My work calls for unseating the reigning all-powerful beauty conglomerates: Loreal, Proctor & Gamble, Este Lauder.

Is there a call to action you want the reader to do or take? 

Consider your inheritance - not of things - but your inheritance of ways of existing, behaving, and expressing…(how do I see(be) myself and why?) as well as the impact (how does how I see(be) myself impact my community and parallel communities?).

Lauren Klein. Practitioner, Researcher, Sculptor, + Stylist building artworks, experiences, and services that impact our everyday practices, and using aesthetic currency as a disruptive tool of this colonialist, distributed, planetary era.

Frizz advocate.

I believe that, by creating new approaches and new habits, we can begin to loosen some of the societal perceptions that bind us to old ways of thinking and being.