“As usual in my work, each painting in this project is born from a found photograph. On this occasion, I started by selecting a few among the many that I keep in folders in my computer because they aroused my interest. By selecting and discarding, the common theme of the mask and the disguise, of the consciously performed personality, began to take shape. The idea of “Femininity as a mask”, which Joan Riviere formulated in 1929 in an article of the same name, appeared to me as a concept to be explored. After all, femininity and masculinity are also masks that we adopt to present ourselves to others.
I continued with my search until I decided on the final selection of photographs that have served as a starting point for this series of works. I did not want to remain in the identification of the mask with concealment and deceit. I was interested above all in looking for images that revealed its subversive role, its ability to create spaces for freedom and the affirmation of a freely chosen self. A way of revealing identities precisely from that masking.
Thus, we witness the representation of femininity as immobility and silence, but also the use of stereotypes of the feminine as liberation and play with one’s own identity. Also, the representation of masculinity appears as something changing that can fluctuate between the adaptation to the norm or the absolute liberation of it.
Other portraits pay homage to those who, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, struggled to present themselves to the world in the most authentic way. These actresses, variety artists, drag queens, sicaliptic women… claimed their sexuality and their own way of understanding the feminine to break the iron social codes that wanted them tied to the norm.”Text by Cristina Toledo. Curated by Juan Curto.
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