Faceless (open until April 13th) is an exhibition about the concept of mask, which is seen not only as a decorative headpiece, but also as a medium to investigate the meaning of Identity and Culture. In my opinion it is not surprising to see that the majority of the artworks presented in the exhibition are produced by female artists, because the mask and the masquerade is often used by artist to explore the Feminine and the female self (for instance like in the series of self- portraits by Cindy Sherman).
1. Cultural Masks
Most of the works exhibited have as subject the most controversial garment in the world: the burqa.
The traditional veil from Middle East and North Africa show exactly how a garment carries not only a practical function but also a large spectrum of meanings (or symbols). Some people look at it as the proof of the underdevelopment of Muslim countries in order to justify racist behaviours and policies in the West; others use it to underline the social inequalities between women and men in the world; and some others look at it as a tool to reinforce their cultural identity.
In the exhibition there are two pieces that interpret the multiform symbol of burqa. The first one is a picture that recalls advertising campaigns: but the centre of the advertising is a burqa by the brand H&M and worn by a blond model. I think that the artist is questioning through this picture the beauty standards carried by the fashion industry. The picture shows that those standards cover the real body and identity of a woman in the same way as a burqa does.
The other artwork is the Anti-Drone Burqa, designed by Adam Harvey and Johanna Bloomfield in New York. The interesting feature of this object is the fact that a traditional garment, seen as tool for female’s oppression, is transformed into a defensive weapon against the extreme oppression of war, protecting the possible owner form drones.
2. Organic Masks
A mask is not only an artefact separated from the actual body. It can also be integrated into the body itself. This more conceptual way to look at the mask, and the photographic medium, helps the artists to create a sort of fake reality that become real into the fiction of the picture.
The paradox is that the human body becomes faceless thanks to an additional face, in a post-human representation of the identity itself. The person behind the mask is so deeply integrated with it that he (or she) become completely part of it: so a woman in her refined dress become a Lady Glittersky (as suggested by the title) or the human skin can be seen as a wood of the highest quality (Sterling Wood).
If you are in Amsterdam that’s definetly an exhibition that you must see!
More informations and pictures here! Enjoy it!