Let your hair down

Slava George
Curated by Boyana Dzhikova
24.04 – 24.05.2024

In her exhibition “Let your hair down” Slava George focuses on two main themes – Bulgarian fairy tales in which women go through initiation, and alchemy. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition that combines fashion and visual arts, using media such as textile, photography, glass and more.

Fairly tales are one of the first mechanisms to create imagination in children, their first contact with the concept of narrative, adventure, courage and in basic social virtues. Beyond the idea of a banal educational mechanism, however, they are indications of more complex and significant processes, reflecting enduring social attitudes and values. The ways of becoming whole, formed by the collective unconscious of communities, are embedded in fairy tales; there we also find manifestations of the archetypes.This is why they are the subject of serious interest in Jungian psychoanalysis. 

The psychological process of individuation is also thoroughly explored by Jung in alchemy, where it is accomplished by passing through stages – nigredo (encounter with the shadow), albedo (purification), rubedo (final phase). Some theorists even believe that alchemy contains more unprocessed material from the unconscious than comparative mythology, history of religions, or even fairy tales, and that is why it comes closest to modern humans.  

The intersection between the two spheres of inquiry is the starting point of “Let Your Hair Down”.

The artist will attempt to update the conventional understanding of fairy tales as imposing stereotypical, patriarchal models of gender behaviour and will search for mechanisms of women’s (self-)empowerment in Bulgarian folklore.

Her research is mainly based on the fairy tales “The Swan Brothers” and “The Golden Girl”. The starting point in these texts are storylines that stimulate women to develop both their intuitiveness, creativity and courage, but also to be conscious of their dark side, their shadow. The exhibition represents a kind of “unmasking” of superficial perceptions of the successful woman and an attention to her dualistic nature. 

“Let Your Hair Down” follows the heroine’s journey of growth. It begins with a black bread rolling in the woods for the Golden Girl to follow, the beginning of her adventure, and according to psychoanalysis, her flight into the unconscious. 

Along the tower is a large-scale installation made of hair, a symbol of femininity, through the ages reflecting cultural identity, social status, societal norms, and often resistance to them. In Slava George’s exhibition, hair is liberated, transformed into nature; it is also a bridge between the storyline, unfolded along the gallery floors.

“Let your hair down” looks for current manifestations of classical attributes of passing through quests in fairy tales through the “weapons” of the woman in the XXI century, guaranteeing her both economic and social independence, referring to the body and its needs and freedoms.

The exhibition also seeks inspiration from the history of women in the artist’s circle, inverting the narrative of the female victim into one who has taken control of her own destiny. 

Many of the archetypal motifs in magical tales are present in equivalent or similar form in alchemy. In this sense, “Let Your Hair Down” does not limit itself exclusively to the stages of a woman’s growth, but aims to address universal processes of psychic transformation that are characteristic of the human experience. The exhibition ends with the symbolic achievement of alchemical solificatio – “transformation like the sun” – in the dome and tank of the gallery, where the public is invited to  with the golden water created for the occasion. 

The exhibition is supported by the National Culture Fund, Debuts Programme.


 In alchemy, *nigredo means decomposition or disintegration. Alchemists believe that the first step in obtaining the philosopher’s stone involves purifying and mixing the constituent parts to form a homogeneous black matter. In psychology, Carl Jung explains Nigredo as a moment of maximum despair, which is a prerequisite for personal growth.

Slava George lives and works in Sofia. She graduated High School of Arts with a degree in Industrial Design, and then got her bachelor’s degree in Fashion at the National Academy of Arts. She works in various fields of visual arts, such as fashion design, performance, video and installation art. The topics she considers in her works are in the field of psychology, anthropology, ethnography, collective rituals and alchemy. 

Slava George <br>
Curated by Boyana Dzhikova <br>
24.04 - 24.05.2024