?For the past 20 years, New York-based artist Wenda Gu has created site-specific installations across the world as part of his ongoing project entitled United Nations. His most recent piece, Bable of the Millennium, was installed as part of the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and fuses concepts of language and culture together into a 75-foot high display.
For the extensive piece, Gu collected hair from 325 barber shops and hair salons throughout 18 different countries on every continent. He covered more than 100 panels with hair woven together into beautifully scripted lettering based off of Chinese, English, Hindi, and Arabic. The stunning exhibit creates a stained glass effect throughout the room as light shines through the semi-transparent panels. Viewers will immediately attempt to read and make sense of the words, but will quickly discover that the language and lettering is fragmented and illegible.
Through his art, Gu continues to explore ideas of communication through language. He invites viewers to reflect upon his jumbled words and to consider how various interpretations can create a divide between a global civilization. Universally similar physical qualities, like hair, tie us together on a basic human level and, though words can become a barrier to fully understanding each other, Gu challenges us to try and achieve a basic understanding of each other's lives and cultures.