H Street NE
The importance of hair and personal appearance crosses culture and time. In the barbers or beautician’s chair, we place our identities in the hands of a trusted stranger while others wait to do the same; here, we observe, we listen, we communicate.
Barbershops’ and beauty salons’ presence in the American cultural landscape has been quietly profound, representing social hubs where politics, personal stories, jokes and local news are funneled and carried outward into the community.
Using Smokey’s Barbershop and Oldies, located at 1338 H street NE, Washington DC, as a starting point for navigating the H Street community, Workingman Collective engaged the barbers and beauticians of H St. to document the synthesis of economy, community, process and structure that is present in and radiates from the shops. The group also documented collateral evidence of the relationship between the interior and exterior of the shops and their surrounding environment, the organic form and social networking system of dynamic community.
Workingman Collective created an installation in the 1341 H Street storefront space that consisted of photographs and a continuous digital projection of the images viewable from both inside and outside the storefront. Over the course of the exhibition Workingman Collective continued to add images to the installation and created forms of engagement within the H Street community.
Workingman Collective ended the project co-hosting a benefit neighborhood BBQ with donations and all proceeds from sales given back to the H Street community. The last day of the storefront exhibition WMC delivered all remaining photographs to the individuals who were part of the project.