It is a fact that nearly everybody, even the least observant person , has a precise, albeit mistaken, idea of what they look like. As a rule, they are dissatisfied with nature’s product. They may be unsympathetic to their reflection in the mirror; they may scorn their photographic image. Although their objections may not always be justified, their insistence on superrealistic likeness is understandable. They ask for more than artistry or resemblance; in fact, resemblance may be the last thing they want. To shore up their ego, they need an icon, a holy picture of his inner self. Only a faultlessly constructed mask will meet their need- and gain their approval…
An unassuming person might be content with a single mask , modeled after his most flattering photograph- perhaps the one they have chosen to accompany their obituary. Or, they might settle for an idealized likeness of themself, a sublimation of ordinary features. A truly fastidious person might want to own an entire collection of masks, each suitable for a particular occasion, expressing optimism, indifference, sustained surprise, displeasure etc., without jeopardizing their basic looks. A person who has been mistaken more than once for a celebrity whom he faintly resembles might unblushingly choose the illustrious face. No doubt, most people would want to look younger; a few, perhaps, older. But rare is the person who has never longed to encounter a different face in the mirror.
A mask permits anyone to put his best face forward. No baggy eyes, no wrinkles, no five o’clock shadow, all features permanently composed. Neurologists may want to prescribe therapeutic masks to help patients ease their real or imagined sufferings. At a board meeting a well-masked person will not hesitate to speak their mind freely, and the steady gaze of his fellow masks will fill him with pride and confidence.
Moreover, since few men in the public eye are graced with a handsome or intelligent face, a mask can alleviate the discomfort of having to look at them. It has been ascertained that much of the poor impression politicians make results from their visual image. Henceforth, popularity votes and personal ratings will be based on a person’s compelling effigy; by wearing a mask they will no longer have to show the world their true face. Sculptors, those least useful members of human society , will receive commissions that may decide a nation’s fate, and news will be made by the ten best masked men and women, whether they wear clothes or not.
Is the Shroud of Turin a mask? Is there a line between old masks and old artifacts of Western religion, like Russian Orthodox icons, centuries-old menorah and mediaeval liturgical vestments? These too are imbued with sacredness, as much as any native North American totem, and they’re eminently collectible too, as are old copies of the Bible and the Qu’ran.
I’d love to see a chart comparing the relative value of the tribal-mask market with that of, for example, football jerseys or baseball cards. These days we collect anything. It’s just that, usually, they are the things of the modern world produced within our own culture. Read More: http://dalihouse.blogsome.com/2009/06/21/unmasked-colonialism-and-its-rewards/ a
“The cubists had wanted to make use of the plastic solution which was offered by African masks (Artistic Cultures of sub-Saharan Africa); the surrealists, on the other hand, tried to establish communication with the mind that had imposed the form of the mask. The first twentieth-century amateurs of what were called ‘barbaric fetishes’ were as willing to collect rubbishy tourist souvenirs as authentic pieces. In 1905 Vlaminck and Derain were wholly undiscriminating in the purchase of objects which sailors had brought back from Africa. The surrealists made their choices as genuine connoisseurs; some of them, indeed, were specialists in ethnography….
…The time which many of the surrealists spent in America gave them the opportunity of discovering American Indian art, which moved them to the same enthusiasm as the art of Oceania. The traces of pre-Columbian civilizations, too, evoked a ‘lost world’, and they too were probed to give forth their meaning. Max Ernst and Andre Breton, particularly, were captivated by the myths and drawings of the North American tribes; for example by the Hopi of north-east Arizona, with the wall paintings in their kivas, underground temples, their initiation rituals which culminated in the ‘night of mystery and terror’, their cult of cloud-ancestors, and their supernatural guardians the Katchina, who were represented by dolls or by masked dancers.” read more: http://www.all-art.org/history580-3_Surrealist_Art1.html
You hold like no other
You were taken as if you were leaving life
To re-enter it
I don’t know if it is in one sense or the other that
you shake the park railing
You have raised again the serpentine grass against your heart
And forever fastened the birds of paradise from the raucous sky
Your glance is extra-lucid
You are seated
And we also are seated
The skull again for some days
All our acts are before us
At arm’s length
In the tendril of the vine of our little ones
To us you yawn it beautifully over existentialism
You are not bitten by worms. read more: http://tigerloaf.wordpress.com/tag/andre-breton/page/2/
Andre Breton, Surrealist Manifesto: “The countless kinds of Surrealist images would require a classification which I do not intend to make today. To group them according to their particular affinities would lead me far afield; what I basically want to mention is their common virtue. For me, their greatest virtue, I must confess, is the one that is arbitrary to the highest degree, the one that takes the longest time to translate into practical language, either because it contains an immense amount of seeming contradiction or because one of its terms is strangely concealed; or because, presenting itself as something sensational, it seems to end weakly (because it suddenly closes the angle of its compass), or because it derives from itself a ridiculous formal justification, or because it is of a hallucinatory kind, or because it very naturally gives to the abstract the mask of the concrete, or the opposite, or because it implies the negation of some elementary physical property, or because it provokes laughter. … read more: http://www.scribd.com/doc/186128/Manifesto-of-Surrealism-Andre-Breton