Mirror images

A new exhibition in Holon called ‘Strands of Emotion’ focuses on the stresses and distresses of women’s tresses.

conflict between reality and the perception of attractivness (photo credit: Courtesy of Roy Schweiger and Hagai Shvadron)
conflict between reality and the perception of attractivness
(photo credit: Courtesy of Roy Schweiger and Hagai Shvadron)
Most women can recount a sad story of the day they left the beauty salon after a haircut and cried for hours. Sometimes those hair-related tears fall for weeks. In the worst cases, emergency stylists are called in to manage the damage. It may seem excessive, but a woman and her hair share a strong connection, one that goes straight to the heart.
“Hair is an integral part of any woman’s identity,” says photographer Roy Schweiger. Taking a break from his role as a staple in the fashion industry, Schweiger has devoted his talents to capturing the whirlpool of feelings evoked by hair. Together with artist Hagai Shvadron, he will unveil his first solo exhibition, “Strands of Emotion,” during Holon’s Women’s Festival later this month.
Two men presenting work in a festival dedicated to furthering female creativity may seem like an odd fit, but the duo’s vision fits perfectly with the spirit of this event. Though neither of the artists can speak to the daily trials and tribulations of women, their exhibition is a visual representation of the conflict between reality and beauty perceptions.
At first glance, Schweiger and Shvadron seem like an odd couple. Schweiger hails from the glamorous, glittery galas of Milan’s fashion world, while Shvadron spent the better part of his career in front of an enormous screen as a graphic designer. However, a few scratches beneath the surface reveal tundra of common ground. Both men were born in Israel but were drawn to the aesthetics of Italy. The two can agree upon their mutual interest in the female figure and, most importantly, each is a huge fan of the other.
“In our first meeting,” explains Shvadron, “Roy brought a photography book. The minute I saw it, I knew we were on the same page. The images were sort of mirror reflections. That became the basis of our collaboration.”
As a starting point, Schweiger photographed a roster of models whose looks were embellished by over-thetop hair design.
“When I selected the models, I wasn’t looking for beauty per se but for character and, of course, for hair.
For each shoot, we spent hours getting the hair styling just right, including pounds of extensions to exaggerate, accentuate and evoke,” explains Schweiger.
Once he was satisfied with the results of hours of photographing, he passed on his selections to Shvadron.
“I capture images as a photographer does. With this exhibition, I got each piece and started to play around with the images,” says Shvadron, whose trademark light etching technique has returned him to the arts after a 15-year hiatus. Using a touch screen, he traces freely to create long arcs of light, which he describes as “lines of energy.”
Over the past five years, Shvadron has embarked upon a long-term project called Streams of Lights.
“Digital technology has been part of my life for years,” says Shvadron. “I like to squeeze all the possibilities out of the technology at hand.”
This project gave Shvadron an opportunity to hone his technique further. “I like to understand the character of each woman from each portrait. I spend time with the photo and begin to exaggerate the features or to draw out what’s underneath the image.”
Once both artists completed their interpretation of the image, the two pieces were brought together, creating a mirror image of photography and drawing.
The result is both aesthetic and thought-provoking.
“The juxtaposition of Hagai’s drawing changes the composition of the photo,” says Schweiger.
“This collaboration, I believe, creates a sort of triangle,” says Shvadron. “There is the woman in the photo, her life, her features and her expression. Then there is the representation of this woman in the photo, which is influenced by the lighting and styling. Finally there is the drawing, which brings out the truth of that woman, her ideals and desires. The three don’t always match, but that’s what makes it interesting to behold.”
The tension between a woman’s personality and her outside appearance was a major issue in this work.
While Schweiger feels most comfortable in the fashion world, he recognizes the harsh expectations placed on women as a result of tools like PhotoShop.
“Right now, the topic of enhancing photos is very controversial. But there have been ways of doing that for years that didn’t involve the computer. Showing the truth of what was in the studio on a particular day takes work. In some ways, all photographs are subjective, even if they are viewed as documentation,” says Schweiger.
“The dialogue here isn’t about women against the representation of beauty but rather between a woman and herself. I think women taking in this work will have to ask themselves questions about their own feelings of inside versus outside and security versus insecurity,” adds Shvadron.
“Strands of Emotion” will open on February 23 at the Holon Theater and will remain on display for one month during the Women’s Festival. For more information about the Women’s Festival, visit www.holon.muni.il. For more on Roy Schweiger, visit www.royschweiger.com. For more on Hagai Shvadron, visit www.streams-of-light.com.