Her Long Black Hair

Creative Work
Record Status: 
Description (in English): 

Janet Cardiff’s Her Long Black Hair is a 35-minute journey that begins at Central Park South and transforms an everyday stroll in the park into an absorbing psychological experience. Cardiff (b.1957, Brussels, Canada) takes each listener on a winding journey through Central Park’s 19th-century pathways, retracing the footsteps of an enigmatic dark-haired woman. Relayed in a quasi-narrative style, Her Long Black Hair is a complex investigation of location, time, sound, and physicality, interweaving stream-of-consciousness observations with fact and fiction, local history, opera and gospel music, and other atmospheric and cultural elements.

The experience of the walk uses photographs to reflect upon the relationship between images and notions of possession, loss, history, and beauty. The original iteration of the project in 2004 included an audio kit that contained a CD player with headphones as well as a packet of photographs.

Digitized supporting materials for Her Long Black Hair are now available! The artist intends for visitors to listen to the audio tracks while observing the images in the gallery below. We recommend following the directions on the map below and printing the images or opening them on your mobile device while you’re in the park.

As Cardiff’s voice on the audio soundtrack guides listeners through the park, they are occasionally prompted to pull out and view one of the photographs. These images link the speaker and the listener within their shared physical surroundings of Central Park.

Materials provided with the permission of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, with special thanks to Dan Phiffer.

(Source: Public Art Fund Archival Page)

Pull Quotes: 

"I remember dancing with a young business man from the Mid-West, and then him taking me to his hotel room so he could show me his vibrator bed. He showed me his bed, then he walked me back to my hotel. That was all. I guess he was pretty disappointed. I cannot believe how naive I was" (9:17 track 1)

Research Collection that references this work:

Screen shots: 
A woman holds up a historical photograph corresponding to the street she's walking on.
A map displaying the route of the piece and when to start the various tracks.
Old photo of a crowd watching a perfomance, with audience spread across the streets.
Central park lake in winter, iced over, with bare trees and buildings in the distance.
A woman in a red leather jacket stands by the iconic bridge in Central Park.
Close up shot of a woman in a red leather jacket stands by the iconic bridge in Central Park.
Woman in a red leather jacket looks out over Central Park lake with her back to the camera.

track 1.mp3

Her long black hair track 1


Her long black hair track 2


Her long black hair track 3


Her long black hair track 4


Her long black hair track 5


Her long black hair track 6
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Record posted by: 
Maud Ceuterick