My current research ‘falling off’ is about the commodification of labour.

I research how humans and resources are forced to migrate and become disconnected from their original lands in the process of global commodification. I use global hair trade as a case study to identify the complex and interwoven power dynamics of commodification, globalization, patriarchies, capitalism, consumerism, and East-West relations.

As a Chinese visual artist living in Europe, I am surrounded by “Made in China” products every day. I choose to work with the wig, a commodity that is both common and specific, personal and industrialized. In the global hair trade, raw materials originate from the human body, and the contributors: hair providers, workers, and customers, are predominately women. However, the entire system is entrenched in male aesthetics, patriarchy, and hierarchy.

Geographically, in the global hair trade, human hair is collected from India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, processed in China, then sold to Europe and the United States. Like most other production industries, it follows the migration of resources and labor from east to west, from the global south to the north, and from underdeveloped to developed regions.

In 2023, I spent a month working with 45 female workers in a factory in Xuchang, China, to better understand the hair trade from this perspective. This city is the world's largest hair production center.

Continuously, I have been researching the historical reasons for China's emergence as a production center for the hair trade during the Chinese ‘hair cutting movement’ of 1903-1927. I want to draw attention to the relative geographical and historic position of the women in the global hair trade. I combine real-life footage with archival material to complete an essay film, which comprises three narrative dimensions of my situation, the situation of my coworkers in the factory and the historical context. In this film I reflect on the gestures of violence in the daily production of industrial products.

A screen is installed on the side of the cart, and some hair mats are placed on the shelf

Close up picture of the hair mats

Close up picture of the hair mats

Moss growing with hair in the city, picture was taken in Antwerp, near Berchem station, Antwerp

 A screen is placed on a cargo box, some artificial wigs are in the box, and the box is placed on a trolley

Close up picture of the synthetic wig

A brush was held to collect cat hair, human hair, clothing fibers, and other dust from the carpet, a cat sitting next to it.

A screen was placed on a cart
Close up picture of the screen

Hands are moving paper hands, paper figure, human hair, needles