Finishing School: Psychic Barber


“There are social strata, even occupational and ethnic groups, whose social situation predisposes them to be regarded by the larger social communities as practicing magic: women, young children, professions such as barbers and physicians, strangers and others.” – Edward A. Tiryakian

This project was initiated by the chance encounter Finishing School had in 2012 with a neon sign reading “Psychic Barber”. They recognized immediately that it was important but did not know why. It provoked a pondering of the unknown and later, transformation for them as a collective. They want that same experience of excitement, the unknown, and transformation to be passed on to others.After the invitation to present the project in Pasadena at Side Street Project They consulted a psychic. That experience flooded them with themes including consciousness, labor, class, beauty, magic, mysticism, religion, realness and representation, spectacle, architecture, history, technology, civic/institutional critique, surveillance/privacy, and exhibitionism/voyeurism.These concepts will be embodied within their new sculpture as a participatory architectural form constructed on the site of a razed barbershop where Side Street Projects now resides. Finishing School staffed the sculpture with hair stylists and barbers who also possess a psychic gift to perform for willing members of the public. The psychic barbers gave free psychic readings and created a new hairstyle for the participant that reflects the insight gained through the experience.

Public Events:

ArtNight Psychic Barber Opening Reception: October 11, 2013 6-10 PM.
Psychic Haircuts and Community Workshop: October 19, 2013 11-1 PM.
Psychic Haircuts and Community Workshop: October 26, 2013 11-1 PM.
Psychic Haircuts and Community Workshop: November 2, 2013 11-1 PM.
Psychic Barber Hair Burial/Closing Reception: November 9, 2013 7-10 PM.

Participating artists:

Finishing SchoolJean Robison, and Yucef Merhi

This project has been commissioned by Side Street Projects and is made possible by support from the Pasadena Art Alliance. Opening performance supported by the Pasadena of Cultural Affairs Arts and Culture Commission.


Established in 2001
Based in Los Angeles, CA

Finishing School is an artist collective that playfully explores an expansive range of subject and media territories at the many intersections of art, politics, praxis, and the everyday. The collective has five members who represent a broad range of skills and research interests. Finishing School produces socially-driven interdisciplinary actions, installations, workshops, design, publications, film, studio art, performance and new media.

They have presented work throughout the United States and internationally in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Thailand, England, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Italy. US institutions include Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, New York University, Creative Time, Dedalus Foundation, Queens Museum, Baltimore Contemporary Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

FS has participated in many residencies, biennials, and festivals, including Bienal de Cuenca in Cuenca, Ecuador; The Wanlass Artist in Residence Program at Occidental College in Los Angeles; Side Street Projects in Pasadena, CA; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Nimoy Foundation Artist in Residence for the 2010 California Biennial at OCMA; Engagement Party: a three-month residency program at MOCA; DFLUX in Detroit, MI; De Zone Stichting Nutuur in Arnhem, The Netherlands; Angeles Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, CA; and Nimoy Foundation Artist in Residence at Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute. 

Their work has also been noted in many books, journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Artforum, Art Papers, Art News, Art in America, Coagula, Metropolis, Living as Form (MIT Press), KCET, and Boom (Journal, University of California Press).