Carry Over is a performance video project recently on view at Vox Populi as part of the group exhibition WE ARE THE FRUITING BODY.

Carry Over (2018)
One-channel video installation with sound

While watching news footage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Phil McCrory - who was working as a hairstylist at the time in Alabama - was struck by how otters were saturated with crude oil. Figuring human hair soaked up oil similarly to that of the otters, McCrory tested his theory by staging a small-scale, contained oil spill where he sought out to absorb motor oil with leftover hair from his salon. Years later, McCrory’s science experiment has been patented and distributed to mediate and repair environmental damage caused by oil spills.

In her performance video, Carry Over, Maddie Hewitt creates an artistic interpretation of Phil McCrory’s environmental remediation discovery to marvel at the way natural resources can be extracted, reclaimed, controlled as well as bestow influence and agency to those who engage with them. For Carry Over, Hewitt collects hair donated to her from friends and acquaintances, manipulates the hair into individual balls, then uses them to clean up motor oil that is removed from her car. Her application of everyday iterative growth and decay assigns new value to what is typically considered waste, and demonstrates that natural human processes can actually help minimize the effects of anthropogenic hazards. Incorporating aspects from autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) trigger videos, as seen on YouTube, the sound, rhythm, repetition, and intimacy of her movements in the piece are intended to have a meditative physical response in listening viewers. The piece also alludes to the traditional association of women with cleaning, hair as an adornment, and caretaking of the body and of our living spaces.

Over the course of the exhibition, WE ARE THE FRUITING BODY, audiences were invited to bring their spare hair, which Maddie would collect and donate to the Clean Wave program at Matter of Trust, an ecological nonprofit organization with a mission to link surplus with needs, and promote naturally abundant renewable resources. In 1999, Lisa Gautier, Matter of Trust founder and President, began a partnership with Phil McCrory. Using clippings of hair from salons, fur from pet groomers, fleece and feathers from farmers, and even laundry lint, the Clean Wave program produces felted recycled fiber mats that go to public works departments for use in storm drains. They also coordinate with emergency clean water efforts to supply stuffed sausage-shaped booms that can “sandbag” and protect coves and beaches.

Other events that took place in association with the project:

May 16, 2018 – Film screening of “Carry Over” at Vox Populi

June 3, 2018 – Film screening of “Carry Over” with live electroacoustic score by Maddie.


Performance and Composition / Maddie Hewitt
Audio Engineer / Michael Bailey
Camerawork / Marie Hinson

Special thanks to those who donated their hair and time to the project:

Emily Bucholz, Maria Dumlao, Maude Haak-Frendscho, Matt Giordano and Stacey Holder, Chris Hammes, Sharon Koelblinger, Alex Nathanson, Maureen O'Dwyer, Kaitlin Pomerantz, Alexa Linton, Eleanor Scholz, Caity Shaffer, Shrub Hewitt, Campbell Watson, Jon Weary, Laurel Winter, Mina Zarfsaz, Tim Belknap

Graphic Design / Mina Zarfsaz

All images are film stills from the camerawork of Marie Hinson.