HOW DOES IT FEEL AT THE NAIL BAR? by Rosie Coleman Collier [Ed.], Emma Aars, Kitty Grady and Becki Menzies
120 x 190 mm, 82 pages, black and white printing, perfect bound, 2023
'The modes of attachment that make persons public and collective and make collective scenes intimate spaces’ – Lauren Berlant
how does it feel at the nail bar? is a journal dedicated to the act of getting your nails done. Taking the position of being situated in the nail bar as a prompt for creative and inter-disciplinary response, it is a meditation on the wider affects, intimacies, interdependencies, connections, labour and care that unfold through our painted nails.
The journal contains a collection of notes, correspondence and fragmented essays from three writers, clients and nail technicians drafted in response to being situated in the nail bar and developed throughout a series of working sessions as a group. Emma Aars’s notes pre and post nails is a diaristic meditation on the spaces in which we apply our nail varnish; in bedrooms with friends, airport lounges and the dim basement of a city salon, painting nails across distinct spatial locations come to embody an unusual mix of discomfort and closeness with both ourselves and others. Becki Menzies writes a series of letters; to herself, a new client and a regular client. In these she details the awkwardness of small talk, the emotional and bodily labour of her work and the ‘blurred lines of business and friendship’ that unfold across the table. Kitty Grady writes on and through clippings, drawing upon a range of references from Agnes Varda, Anna Karenina and Caroline Calloway. Titled as shades of Essie and Opi nail varnish, each clipping reflects upon the mammalian and corporeal quality of our nails and the proximities between the buffering, filing, and cutting of a manicure with the act of writing. Contributions sit alongside images and ephemera from nail salons across Glasgow, London and further afield, each visually mapping a constellation of salons across the geographies in which this project was formed.
As a curatorial project, produced within and launched back into the site of the nail salon, how does it feel at the nail bar? is a reflection on expanded and reconfigured notions of the ‘curatorial’ as an intimate and daily site and an attempt to redefine curatorial practice as a mode of relationality via the exchange of inter-subjective experience. The works have been formed not through ‘commission’ but rather developed in proximity, through centring a curatorial and editorial methodology of interdependence. The journal offers wider commentary on the proximities between the dynamics of the nail salon and curatorial work – both locations of affectual labour, both sites of intimacy, both allowing dependency to unfold between either client/beautician or artist/curator. how does it feel at the nail bar? locates significance in our painted nails, asking us to consider the relationships, affects and intimacies stored behind them.