Habibatou Yaye Keita (1998) is a visual artist from Mali, a graduate of the Conservatory of Multimedia Arts and Crafts Balla Fasséké Kouyaté (CAMM / BFK), member of the Sanou’Arts collective, lives and works in Bamako.
Through her hairstyles Keita is a walking work of art and a sign of the message she wants to convey.
Keita: ‘I show hairstyles from my grandmother’s generation in Mali. It strikes me that everyone wants to have straight hair these days and imported plastic hair is fashionable. Unfortunately everyone wants to look like in the west. We have such a rich culture of traditional hairstyle. Traditionally, hairstyles had a meaning. You could tell from a woman’s haircut what ethnicity she belonged to, whether she had just given birth or if she was married. That’s handy because not everything is discussed here, out of respect you often keep your mouth shut.’
Keita herself wears hairstyles from days gone by. “Everyone recognizes her by my hair and people like to have a chat with me, then I tell them about our traditional hairstyles.” Keita paints pictures in which she is depicted wearing a hairdo that she makes from yarn. Sometimes she mixes past and present or refers to something from her close environment. One of the hairstyles consists of three spheres that refer to the main hills on which Bamako is built. She fervently hopes to inspire other women to appreciate their own hair.