GIF Six-Pack: The Oakland Barber Shops of Brandon Tauszik

A look into the intimate spaces of black male identity.

Nov 13 2015, 7:05pm

“You can come here in this mothafucka’ and be who you really are. Because out there in society, you can’t be too black out there.” Yay, Room to Groom, 2015.  All images courtesy the artist

For four years, Brandon Tauszik profiled barbers in Oakland’s African-American community and explored the way these spaces and the people that inhabit them inform the black community and its culture. He then compiled the results into a series of black and white GIFs called Tapered Throne. “I was initially curious about how these intimate third spaces function and thrive,” Tauszik tells The Creators Project. Unfortunately, even in as diverse a city as Oakland, the African-American population is declining faster and faster “as the technology sector reshapes the demographics here at a lightning fast pace. These barbershops are demographically specific businesses. If there are no customers, they must close,” he explains. Thus it is the people that define these spaces, as shown by these intimate and honest GIFs, each of which is accompanied by a quote from the barber or client.  

See a selection of the GIFs here, and see the rest on the website.  

“Black men promoting peace, love, and unity in an inner-city community. As we open up our doors every day, we're just trying to be some conscious brothers.” Dre, Room to Groom, 2015.

“We are a people of style, we've always been that way. If you trace our heritage back, we wore a lot of jewelry, headwraps, that kind of garb. Image defines who we are sometimes.” Cedric, Cedric’s, 2011.

“We sometimes have to deal with a lot of negativity in Oakland; poverty, crime, violence. But I don't believe my shop has to be part of all that.” ATL, Fruitvale Barbers, 2014.

“There are not too many places that we as black men can go and express ourselves anymore.” Reggie, Top Hat, 2013

“You get two or three generations coming in here sometimes. I just crack up how they come and say 'Hey, you used to cut my hair when I was a little fellah!' I say 'yea maybe'.” Kenneth, Cuts & Bends, 2011.

Click here to see more work by Brandon Tauszik. 


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