The Masks We Wear
“One day I took off my mask and I noticed my face was missing!” – jaap scheeren
I picked up one of those $20.00 art magazines that I would love to subscribe to when I was in Winnipeg – I dearly hope that when I am making enough money that I can do so, I still have time to do what I do with them (after using them as most use magazines): make collage art. I cut out pieces of other art, sometimes with painstaking detail, and add a few elements of my own, like black paint, saran wrap, a violent RIP, glow-in-the-dark modge podge and fire, to name a few. I’ve never tended towards calling myself an “artist”, though collage is kind of to fine art what remixes are to music, I think primarily because of my younger sister’s oft professed hatred for artists, or at least “people that call themselves artists“, my Aunt Karen being the prototype for her bias. But my sister also got me to start wearing bras again for a few weeks, when she came here to visit me almost three years ago, and was able to put an end to that. Bras hurt though (torture devices, in my opinion, underwire is the equivalent of foot .binding in current North American society. European women seem to be a little more liberated. I don’t even own one anymore. There are undershirts for women… ). I digress. Maybe I’ll take out a DeviantArt account one of these rainy Vancouver winter days that lack school or employment of any traditional kind.
A couple of weeks ago I leafed through the magazine and ripped out quotes and images that I thought might be useful in a new collage project, or at least those that I thought were interesting. I did not have a theme yet, though.
Today I went through the pieces of paper, and the quote above reminded me of last night’s post. Faces and masks – in sociology and social psychology these are key concepts: the different selves that we reveal to certain groups or individual others. We all wear masks to some degree when we’re out in the world – I think this can definitely become pathological, spawning the classic Caulfield “phony”, but that it is also necessary for survival in a society where plenty of others are looking for people to take advantage of (that’s when I put my scary mask on) – and may even wear them at home. I sure was, during my decade of codependency.
I feel I am becoming much more who I really am, now that I live alone. Taking my mask off at home has led to some alterations to the mask I don when I leave my apartment. I’ve become more outgoing, which at first seems like quite a contradiction, but makes sense if socializing is thought of like food that we must have at least once in a while.
I discovered so much about myself that I did not know the first time I lived alone – for a brief two months upon moving here to Vancouver, before I allowed codependency to cast its spell on me one more time, for good measure.
Over the past ten months I picked up where I left off I guess, save for the two months that my dad was here – not that we are “codependent”, but my reason for being adamant about not having any roommate was that I did not want my emotional state to be affected by anyone else, and Goddess knows we all wear masks that we put much effort into making around our parents. I do not think I’ve learned as much as I did during that one summer, but I figure learning about oneself is like learning about anything – there is a “honeymoon” period at the beginning, during which you feel like you could read about topic “x” forever. Then midterms arrive.
So, I decided that the topic for my new collage will be that post, and then I realized that it would be another self-portrait. I started wondering if all my collages have been self-portraits. If so, how very, very interesting, looking at them in chronological order…
(in the first one you couldn’t see my face – I was hiding under the blankets hitting the snooze button…unless I was the child…in this one I’m peering out from under a blanket! completely unintentional…
(so far! )
Now, not yet in a codependent mess of a “relationship”…
Broke up, I started making lots of collages, which were unfortunately, after being put together to make one big collage, destroyed, this time by angry former roommates and friends (the fake hippies/neo-cons wearing harem pants, sporting dreads)…
I’ve been making jewelery and taking lots of pictures and decorating my apartment and experimenting with paint…sometimes in combination with each other:
…so maybe I’m a damn artist. My sister already hates me, why not? And she just happens to hate me because of my inability to don a mask when I was with her on a few occasions that have dirtied the rest of the memories she has of “us” (in and around that fateful year, 2005, from what I can discern, at least – my sister never, ever speaks of her feelings, well, unless unleashing rage upon someone), I suppose, the same way it’s hard for my dad and me to remember my mom when she wasn’t sick, it is hard for my sister to remember me before I was …well, her age, with a lot of pills.
All I really know is that I agree with Tori,
“If I die today I’ll be a happy phantom, and I’ll run naked through the streets without my mask on…”
It’s a pain to come off as normal all the time.
Now I’m going to go cut myself out of paper.