“Maschere” draws inspiration from Italy’s traditional Commedia dell’arte, a popular entertainment through the centuries where exaggerated versions of society’s classes and prominent figures were brought on stage by traveling companies. As it was often done for street theatre, costumes and accessories were used to reveal to the audience as much as possible about the character: not only their profession and status, but also their personality and temperament could be found out with a glance.
With time, clothing evolved to keep up with fashion trends and characters were often rewritten to reflect society’s changes, but the masks covering the face of the players remained always in place, becoming their defining symbol. In the same vein, the subjects of this series were asked to present their lockdown persona through self-designed costumes, symbolic objects and gestures, bringing into focus a facet of their self born during the months spent behind the mask.
The painted Knight
The lockdown easily overpowered me. The home I came to just for sleeping quickly became first a prison and then a hospital ward as thinking about what the uncertain future had in store took a toll on my mental health. This is my quarantine self revealed: dressed in white but surrounded by shadows closing in, with bionic arms and bejeweled masks that offered protection from the outside perils while at the same time limited my movements. I felt locked in a gilded trap that was slowly suffocating me, driving me insane. The only thing that helped me get through was makeup: brushes and palettes became the weapons that helped me fight the lockdown monsters. @LadyB
The lockdown didn’t bring radical changes to my life: being an introvert and working from home, I didn’t feel the need to go outside and connect with people in order to remain sane. However, as days passed they became infused with an unreal sense of calm and stillness, as if time flowed at a different, slower pace.
I spent hours tending the plants on my balcony, hoping that the work could ground me to a reality I felt slipping away. Ironically gardening had the opposite effect, transporting me into a fantasy where this idyllic state could go on forever. Getting back to reality has been difficult, but I came out of lockdown with beautiful plants. @Sara
I love to travel, to be on a stage in a jam packed venue dancing the night away. I never had a chance to tone down my globetrotting lifestyle until quarantine happened… and then I discovered how much I needed that pause.I wanted to take advantage of the free time to create 100s of new props for my shows, but I discovered how home could be a gateway to other types of self expression. During lockdown I baked, I fried and I glazed -but first courses are where I excel! I also spent time with my partner and my dog, something that I never could do much in normal situations, recharging my batteries and getting ready to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, taking the world by storm once again! @Valentina
THE HOPEFUL MUSE
There is a famous Japanese piece of writing called ‘Winter always turns into spring’. There is always hope, if we remain true to ourselves we can manifest a life brimming with hope, happiness and realization.
This is what the mask I’m wearing reminds me of: cherry blossoms rising over a storm of chaos. I perceive my work as a vocation and I love every part of it. Having it taken away, not being able to express myself through my work has been incredibly hard. I used the lockdown working on myself, choosing not to let circumstances, fear or other people affect me and the life I worked so hard to create.
I tried to enjoy having time off, spending it with my beloved husband, encouraging friends and fellow artists not to lose hope, preparing in every way, mentally and physically for when the time was right. I knew that deep down I will be on a stage again, bringing sparkles into people’s lives through my art form, because that’s what I do and who I am. @Miss Jolie
When I realized that the lockdown was going to last quite a while, I wasn’t stressed. Working from home? I seamlessly transitioned to living in my pajamas 24/7. And what better occasion to keep up my winter diet regime, maybe even to better myself and learn how to cook! Good intentions paved my way each time I tried going to the supermarket, but the never ending queues and the siren call of easy delivery brought my healthy plans to an abrupt halt. I became an expert in timing my orders to arrive exactly at one pm for my lunch break, navigating tough choices like “chicken nuggets or spicy wings?”. I was locked at home, while my food did all the travelling, bringing to my table international cuisines or Italian delicacies, whatever was my whim. My recipe for the lockdown? A finely tuned balance between sad canned tuna pasta and sophisticated restaurants, American fast food desserts paired with milanese double breaded cutlets. The results are guaranteed. @Zurbi