Masks seem to have two main functions that may well or not go together: symbolic meaning and protecting one’s anonymity. You can wear a king’s or a fool’s mask – to play, pretend, perform. A mask suggests its own way of acting. When you act in accordance with your mask, it is like trying on a different identity layer. Yet, your deeper self is left intact.
A mask is meant be worn by humans but it always remains something external. It is linked to a human face but can never become part of our nature. Even our own personality can be seen as a mask above our essence. The Latin word “persona” literally means a mask. In this sense the world is a theater, indeed…
Sacral rituals in many cultures involved masks and costumes to communicate with the spirits or embody gods and thus execute power over the universe. Masks also used to be a way to disguise and protect yourself: from evil spirits or just from people’s curiosity.
Wearing a mask can give one a moment of forbidden freedom and even power. It is a fascinating concept. But masks without people are no less fascinating to me. A mask without a person is much like “a smile without a cat”. It is potentially an abstract symbol – of a deity, character, emotion, or of anonymity itself. Is it a presence or an absence?
I liked to experiment with the concepts and symbols of consciousness and emotion.
So I used a blank mask – a calm human face – in juxtaposition with the elements and other symbols. This blankness is expressive in its own way. It is hollow and lacks expression but then the emotion can come from the setting itself. It brings out a range of emotions from serenity to loneliness, from insecurity to power. One nice thing about this is that your fantasy can wander and find its own meanings and interpretations.
I would be very curious to hear about your associations and thoughts…