What is a mask for the 21st century? This intriguing question began a unique curatorial project for He Made She Made Gallery, in Sydney, Australia. Twenty-one artists were assigned the task of producing twenty-one diverse masks, to provide a unique insight into its contemporary use and relevance. The only functional requirement was for the mask to be wearable and fit a human head. The result: a plethora of interpretations and responses in both execution and material construction to create a mask for the modern era.
Sydney-based designer Kitiya Palaskas’ The Gypsy Crown is a unique, vibrant response to the task. Inspired by her world travels, her piece fuses together the tribal elements of the Bedouin women of Oman, the Hill tribe villages of Northern Thailand and her childhood upbringing in Papua New Guinea. Her piece is a evocation of the fear and fascination recalled on first seeing traditional Papuan masks moulded into shape with mud. Choosing to work with wool she integrated the traditional weaving techniques rediscovered in the 1970’s, to construct a tactile, joyful assimilation of culture, emotion and its modern day interpretations.
Equally as ambitious and energetic in her response, fellow Sydney-based artist, Hollie Martin, plays with the elements of the natural world, its geometric patterns and kaleidoscopic hues. Her mask, entitled Ametrine Queen, toys with the notion of the power in anonymity. Inspired by the gemstone encrusted masks at the haute couture collection of Maison Martin Margiela A/W 2013. Her mask is a commanding social comment upon societies‘ mannered veneer and the transformative power in masking the emotive natural self. The sociological, psychological and the artistic combine to create unique, three dimensional constructions of social commentary, cultural assimilation, futuristic evocations and personal responses. Beautifully photographed for the exhibition by Tomasz Machnik and curated by gallery directors Laura Kepreotis and Patrick Chambers, the finite brief produced fantastic creative insights to identity and representation in the 21st Century.