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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Looking throughout a... MASK...

Ciao everybody!

I know, I am unforgivable but as always your waiting is being praised as... HERE I AM AGAIN!

After a very busy period, as always but even more with Easter holidays, the fight with time to finish all my assignments and the exams coming up...
But also friends coming to Dublin to meet me which turned me into an improvised tour guide and brought me out for dinner and not only very often, while I should have been sitting in my room and updating all of you, my lovely readers.

And now let's move on to something that is really important for me and I'd love to share with you...
Today we are going to talk a little bit more about photography, not only because while I've been away I've been working on my second project for photography class... 

But most of all because it gave me the chance to reflect a lot.
I bet all of you know how it works when you are being given a project to develop: there are various titles, various themes among which you choose one and work on it, trying to squeeze your brain to find a sort of inspiration for that.

This time, our lecture gave us various topics for our first properly creative photo project, but when I went home during Easter break I still hadn't thought a lot about what to do with that.
I hadn't been thinking about the way I would have preferred to develop my photo story until I found myself walking around Venice in a normal sunny day (well...normal in Italy considering the weather in Dublin these days) with my faithful Nikon D100.

I was just going around my lovely home town, enjoying the sunshine and taking pictures as I used to do many other times, but that day I found out to be interested in one particular subjects: the masks.

Venice, as you may know, is the city of masks, where in the past it was absolutely normal to wear them, sometimes not only during parties, elegant balls in the amazing buildings on the channels or special occasions, but also during the day.

The venetian carnival is one of the most famous in the world, and for sure the most elegant.
In fact, differently by all the other carnivals where people go crazy and they dress up with a thousand colours and go around dancing for days, in Venice it has something magic.
It's all about old style dresses, wigs, feathers, slow dances in a terrace and, of course, masks.

But even if the masks in Venice have their own life and history, during the years they have been developed in many different ways.

The classical ones such as the Dama, the elegant woman, or the Cortigiana, with intense colour as it represents the malicious femme, or also the Bautta, very typical for men, have welcomed many other types of masks.

Now there are demons, 

cats and Arlecchinos, 

not to talk about the various extremely elegant ones that women now wear in the very special occasions during the carnival, and that tourists buy just to stick them on the wall of their houses.

The masks are beautiful, and they revealed themselves to be also a great photographic subject.
But looking at them not only as a great piece of art I couldn't avoid starting to build a reflection on their actual function.
Masks were originally created to hide our identity.
That gave birth to a great reflection, as I told you, and also to the clue topic of my photo story...

In the past, wearing a mask meant that you could be whoever you wanted, without taking care of the social and familiar implications, and loose control, maybe just for one night, during a ball.

Masks are an extremely powerful tool not to reveal our identity, but trying on various masks made ma ask myself a question: do we really need them to hide our personality and who we are?

The great Italian literate Luigi Pirandello, who I've been studying in high school, had many theories about the ways we use to masquerade ourselves. He stated that everybody in society in wearing not only one single mask, but many of them, which we change depending on who are we relating with...

Our masks are infinite, and everyone who looks at them see them in a different way from anybody else.
Wearing a mask we can become an elegant Dama even if we are not, or also a malicious Cortigiana without being judged for our attitude.

But even without a mask we are able to show different parts to ourselves, depending on the situation we are involved in.

We all know that there are people who are more likely to be clear and direct than others...
But even this ones that we consider honest, are they fully apart from this huge acting stage which is life in society?
Or are they simply taking that role, which could also be changed every second, or be considered in a different way from somebody else?

I know, I am confusing you, but I hope you all will find a sense in this reflection that came to my mind by simply taking pictures of the marvellous venetian masks.
Looking at them, shooting them, made me feel like they were talking to me, trying to say something, or maybe just provoking.

Because if we change our identity all the time, with or without a mask on, as Pirandello used to believe, IS THERE A REAL IDENTITY after all?

Well...I could go on for ages talking about the thoughts that came to my mind about that, but I actually prefer to leave you with this question, which I hope is going to add a taste of mystery to the pictures that I'm showing you in this post.
Anyway, mystery is key feature of wearing a mask, and it could be both in a positive or negative way.

Because at midnight, when the ball is over and everybody take off their masks, that's when you see who is in front of you.
He may not be showing you his full identity...
He may have taken off just the first mask who is hiding something about him...
But he might not be the only one who is still acting...

Did you take off your mask?

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