Doa Aly

Doa Aly

A Tress of Hair

Single channel digital film projection, 16:9, 2008, 11 min 48 sec

A Tress of Hair is based on two short stories by 19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant, “La Chevelure” (A Tress of Hair), and “Berthe” (Bertha). “A Tress of Hair” is the story of a young man who becomes obsessed with a lock of hair that he finds hidden in an old cabinet. Within the privacy of his apartment, he caresses the tress of hair, longing for it and the unknown woman it once belonged to. He constantly craves “the cold, slippery, irritating, bewildering contact.” His burning caresses transport him into an entranced communion with the object. In his delirium he ventures out of his apartment, where he is confronted with his madness, arrested, and confined to a mental asylum. The story is narrated by a physician at the asylum, reading the recovered memoirs of a madman.

“A Tress of Hair” is a tale of repressed carnal desire, it speaks to the trespassing of private mania into the public realm. Throughout the film, stories are fused through the interchangeability of roles, and every character is alternately passive, vulnerable, and commanding. Communication becomes imitation in an allegorical triangle of subjects and objects, excess and lack. A Tress of Hair speaks to the interplay between curiosity and compulsion at the margin between choice and madness. It was commissioned by PhotoCairo 4: The Long Shortcut, curated by Aleya Hamza and Edit Molnar. 

Film still, photograph by Graham Waite