Repugnant Rapunzel (Let Down Your Hair)

Chakaia Booker (b. 1953) Repugnant Rapunzel (Let Down Your Hair), 1995 Rubber tires, metal and wood 59 × 24 × 24 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Friends and Family of Chakaia Booker 1996.7

Repugnant Rapunzel (Let Down Your Hair), with its gnarled tire knot leading to a thick rubber braid, puts a dark spin on the classic fairy tale by suggesting that there is hardship interspersed with beauty. For sculptor Chakaia Booker, repurposed rubber tires carry a range of cultural, historical, and visual associations, including textiles, African-American hair culture, physical aging, consumerism, and capitalism. While alluding to the rubber industry’s reliance on exploited African labor, this work also encourages viewers to reflect on their position within a system that renders people and resources expendable.

Artist in Residence 1995–96