Haircheckpoint is an inquiry into ideas of possession, of ownership of things in public space, and the subjective importance of objects. It is a reflection of social movement, and quite accidentally a comment on terrorism.
In 2005 the project began as an installation in a shopfront gallery in central Sydney. It was a large mirror facing the street with the words Hair Check Point inscribed on it. The response to the piece was phenomenal, with many passers by getting a good laugh out of it.
Embracing that conviviality and extending it to question possession, I performed Haircheckpoint in five countries around Europe in 2006. In 2012 I performed it again in New York.
I would get ordinary, plain packages, boxes mainly, and put a small mirror inside it. On the mirror I would write a message, more often than not, it would say ‘Hair Check Point’. I would then strategically place the object in the public and sit near it filming its life secretly.
The project took on new meanings with every space. In Cologne, the people loved it. Many who came in contact with it would pick it up and open it to find themselves laughing at their own reflection. Some would take it with them, some would not. In Holland, nothing happened to the packages at all. The strongest reaction was in London. The piece became an act of terrorism, which I saw as evidence of their heightened post 9/11 anxiety at the time. I was warned repeatedly that I risk getting arrested. In London I used A5 envelopes to alleviate some of the fear larger objects in the public transport system may evoke, and listened attentively as the same recorded voice that asked commuters to ‘mind the gap’ summoned inspectors to the operations control room over the loud speakers. I would place the envelope on a chair of a platform, and then cross the tracks to film from the opposite side. At least half the time the envelope was gone before I reached the opposite platform. Other times I managed to see people pick it up and run it to the safety of main control. Paris, a city as internationally renowned as London, saw the packages eventually swept up by the cleaners.