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The manifold faces of the mask(s)

“Imparerai a tue spese che nel lungo tragitto della vita incontrerai tante maschere e pochi volti.”
(Luigi Pirandello)

It is as old as the history of mankind itself, but was by far not always used for health reasons: the mask. The current use of protective masks at first inevitably evokes associations with times of plague and cholera, but that's only part of it.

Ritual and shamanic masks that have survived in ceremonies of indigenous peoples to this day; masks of the theatre, from ancient tragedy to the character masks of the "commedia dell'arte" to a circus clown; carnival and fancy dress masks as an unmistakable unique selling point of local customs; disguise of law enforcement officers and protestors. Half, full, speech, theatre, rigid and make-up masks, charging between religious and social must-haves, role-play element and provocative fashion accessory. As unfathomable as the variety of masks may seem, they are united by the aim to hide one's own face - and thus one's own person or personality - to slip into a different role and by doing so achieve more freedom of speech.

From rudimentary drawings of human figures with animal heads in rock caves to mummy visors in Egyptian burial chambers, from colourful mosaics of ancient tragedies, drawings of Thalia and Melpomene to rich oil paintings of courtly masked balls, from Picasso's facial transformations to the Instagram Story of the Cologne Carnival - the documentation and tradition of the masks is as diverse as their manifestations and areas of application worldwide.

In the next couple of weeks, Villa Vigoni will therefore present intuitive associations and short stories under the title The manifold faces of the mask(s).