Blind Alleys

In Rachel Harrison’s Untitled, 1991, a rank bear fur hangs from nails driven into the wall. Thin, braided plaits of fake human hair (extensions snatched from a roommate) similar in shade to the dark brown fur complicate the nasty thing, whatever it is. On the hirsute surface dangle, rather precariously (making a kind of truncated constellation, ursa minor as it were), four tattered photos; Harrison found them abandoned on the street. The hue and hairdos date the snapshots from the late ’60s or early ’70s. One is of a family—four children, a father kneeling, someone standing, an accordion stretched across hips, the face and shoulder eviscerated. Another picture shows a little girl with a photo album splayed across her lap; she appears to suffer from Down’s syndrome. Is our understanding of these forlorn pix and the skin they hang on any more profound than the girl’s take on the photo

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