29.03.2019 - 05.05.2019
I’ve often been asked to exhibit various aspects of my personal collection in museums and galleries in order to show it’s links and connections to my own artistic practice. The one subject in my collection which I’m frequently asked to exhibit are my collection of wooden ritual and dance masks from various countries. My first response is always very mixed and hesitant because I’ve never been very wild about the “the artist as a collector,” theme group shows, especially for personal reasons and the history of why I started to collect wooden masks since my teenage years. But when I started to think about some ideas for the NICC vitrine, it somehow never felt right to show my own work. Oddly enough, I began to focus on a very peculiar group of wooden masks hanging in my apartment which were covered by veil cloths.
For almost a decade, I’ve kept a group of about dozen masks hanging on the walls of the entry hallway shrouded with various cloths and fabrics. The initial reasoning to cover the masks was to conceal the initial shock and fright from sensitive friends and visitors who came over for the first time upon entering the front door. But one day I decided just to leave all of the fabrics covered on all of the veiled masks so I wouldn’t have to keep climbing up my ladder to continuously cover and uncover them whenever people visited and left my apartment.
As time passed, I had forgotten about their true physical identities and characteristics hidden underneath the cloths. The shrouded masks became invisible to me, and I no longer saw them as veiled entities or even as masks anymore. I realised that the veils actually morphed to become a new added skin and identity for each mask—another kind of face, or mask within a mask, for a face within another face.
The veiled wooden masks which I’ve selected and presenting at the NICC vitrine will be displayed on one wall shown both covered as they lived in my own private setting, and also uncovered to view the actual identities for each mask. The countries of origin for the masks exhibited are various: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, for example. Every week for the duration of the exhibition, a selection of several masks will be uncovered at the beginning of each new week and covered back again at the end of the week. This cycle will continue until all of the masks have been temporarily seen and unseen.
The turn between forgetting and remembering the faces became an interesting way to rethink and reconsider these objects for myself as another new layer, with a new kind of skin.