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Week 6: 16 October 2011

Vidal Sassoon

60s icon, world renowned hair stylist

A kid from nowhere

Self-described as "a kid that started from nowhere", 60s icon and veteran hairdresser Vidal Sassoon gave his take on how Nowhereisland helps us to consider how society permits and prevents us from living the adventures he has experienced over his lifetime.


Transcript of video

I think the island is special because you can alter the shape and the philosophy of people’s thinking. If they have an awareness of the egality, the sharing, the excitement of something absolutely new, I think I’d like to live on that island, yes.

A thought came to me some years back and it’s been very much in my mind lately, and it might give you some juice for thought really. Capitalism, in it’s worst form of greed and winner take all, creates communism and fascism, because when you analyse it, when you have millions of people unemployed, nothing to do, nowhere to go and no luxuries in life, they may turn to something else. And they did, they turned to communism and they turned to fascism, which we know turned out to be monstrous, both of them, absolutely monstrous. Now, we have a situation today where, in so many countries, there are people idling, wondering what they’re going to do with their wasted lives and, of course, they can’t turn to either fascism or communism - God it would be horrible - but what, philosophically, can they turn to? Where is the next move for the majority of people?

I’m not talking about people who got lucky. I started in the East-end of London, basically, and got lucky. I happened to… but not everybody can do this. I mean, possibly they all have it within them to do it but no-one brings it out, so, it’s a wasted life. And you sense that there has to be another way of creating a certain equality. Yes, we don’t want to get rid of the entrepreneur, we need the entrepreneur, and you don’t want to get rid of the very rich because, they can, if they’re smart, invest and give thousands of jobs to people. But I think government has to take over in so many areas and therefore socialism is incredibly important within a capitalist society. You’ve got to have socialism to keep order, stop the greed and give people much more of an opportunity.

Now, if, Obama, when he got in with a 9 million majority had said to the Republicans instead of, you know, dance waltzing with them, ‘I want the same amount of money, 7.8 billion, to build the infrastructure, and I’m going to create 3 million new jobs immediately’, the excitement would have been extraordinary, because people want to be involved in excitement, they don’t want to be involved in the dullness of their everyday life. And we would have had tremendous help on the situation in other countries. It would have been something that is positive, forward looking, different. Because, obviously, every right-winger in the world - you can tell I’m a left - every right-winger in the world ‘we can’t afford this, we can’t…’ they can afford everything, except paying taxes and doing the right thing by the people.


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Vidal Sassoon

Vidal Sassoon was one of the worlds most renowned hairdressers responsible for some of the most iconic 60s hairstyles including the architecturally precise bob. In his early life Vidal worked for Zionist and anti-Facist organisations and in 1948 Vidal fought in Israel’s War of Independence after the partition of Palestine. Today more than one million hairdressers have been trained in his European and North American Academies and there are Vidal Sassoon Salons, schools and Educational Centres around the globe.

It was with great sadness that we learnt of Vidal Sassoon's death on 9 May 2012. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.