When I started flipping through Ed Templeton’s latest book “Hairdos of Defiance”, the notion of “collecting” became readily apparent. From the nineties into the 21st century, Templeton has been fascinated with the mohawk. Red mohawks, half shaved mohawks, triple mohawks (yes), mohawks that look like metal spikes from the middle ages, floppy mohawks…from women to men, black and white, across the world. Templeton’s been encountering the mohawk in his travels as a professional skateboarder turned artist for decades, and I’m sure he could’ve filled an encyclopedia of Mohawks in the span of a month. The catch? Just because you can “wear” a mohawk doesn’t mean you’re worthy of one.
There’s an undercurrent of resentment towards 21st century capitalism, trends, and most importantly, ironic distance in “Hairdos of Defiance”. Not only can your style and publicly perceived personality be bought and sold, but your lack of “care” in your image (i.e. ripped jeans, “aggressive hair style”, tattoo, etc.) is a popular choice, not a true reflection of your self. In other words, having ripped, muddy jeans because you wear the shit out of them seven days a week and don’t bother to wash them is insurmountably different from having them pre-cut by Abercrombie and Fitch.
But can you photograph “it”? Templeton can. He can differentiate the suckers from the real. Kids on a rebellious bend from the ones that’ll never know anything else. When we see someone that’s using the mohawk with irony attached, they stick out immediately.
You don’t belong here kid.
There’s an inherent ironic distance in ones choice to be seen as rebellious and contemptuous, but know full well and good that they paid [at least $100 in some cases] for that aesthetic choice. I’ll never forget my Dad’s disdain for teenagers buying ripped jeans (“I mean…RIPPED JEANS!?!?!?”). While you can take off your jeans, you can’t swap out your hair.
Simply put, Templeton is drawn to the “authentic, and by that I mean not wearing their hairstyles ironically.”
Trends are STDs. Socially transmitted diseases. What do you do when punk becomes packaged and sold by corporate America? Marketed to and marked on a demographic graph? It dies. Just like any other fashion movement, few carry it with pride, and the rest sterilize it until you can no longer see it as an act of rebellion; rather, a fashion choice.
If you find yourself in front of a copy of “Hairdos of Defiance”, or hovering over the purchase icon, may the timid be wary. You can find lethal dose of “fuck you” injected into every strand of hair found in Templeton’s photographs.