The Brooklyn Beard Craze Goes Overseas for Somerset House Show
Beards aren’t just a thing in Brooklyn anymore. In fact, if the upcoming exhibition “Beard” at London’s Somerset House is any indication, it looks like the hipster look isn’t just gaining steam, but cultural legitimacy.
The exhibition, which will take place from March 5–29, 2015, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of pictures of dudes with beards.
However, photographer Brock Elbank didn’t just shoot young guys in flannels. The subjects come from all over the world, range in ages, and include notable characters like actor John Hurt, models Ricki Hall and Billy Huxley, tattooist Miles Better, and British bearded woman Harnaam Kaur, who has been growing facial hair since she was a teenager, after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition which causes excess hair growth in women.
“It’s just interesting people, a real cross-section of society that will be brought together in this show,” Elbank told the Guardian.
The show raises thought-provoking questions about the art of grooming and the enduring nature of certain trends, but its inspiration actually came from a way less superficial place. Through a mutual friend, Elbank was introduced to Australian charity campaigner Jimmy Niggles, who was starting a social media campaign involving growing beard, this in order to raise awareness about skin cancer after a friend’s death from the preventable disease.
To support Niggles’s cause, Elbank began #Project60, photographing 60 people with beards, all of whom flew to his rural Warwickshire home to participate as portrait sitters on their own dime. All of these portraits, plus 20 commissioned especially for the exhibit, will be on display.
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