Chinese born, New York- and Shanghai-based artist Gu Wenda “United Nations,” at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum from April 1 to Nov. 5, 2023, fills the long, narrow, three-story tall atrium outside the museum’s maritime galleries with the 188 flags of the member states of the United Nations—all made from human hair reportedly sourced from barber shops, beauty salons and individual volunteers on six continents.
The 2000 installation, titled “united nations: man and space,” is impressive upon first view, and a bit creepy, and simplistic in its concept. The museum writes: “Using a material viscerally associated with the human body, this dramatic installation makes a powerful statement about what unites us as human beings across borders, racial, and political divides.”
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