"The theme of the mask is absolutely essential to help your imagination arrive at what I call the dream," ~ Stefano Nicolao
What lies behind the mask?
I'm passionate about languages and different cultures, and therefore, this time I’m writing just for my own pleasure – and hopefully for yours as well – about masks festivals taking place around the world at this time of year and how they reveal the culture of the people and the country: the ‘Mardi Gras’ in New Orleans, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Purim in Israel and in the Jewish communities worldwide.
Inspired by the Masquerade Festival in Venice, Italy, where I visited two weeks ago, I’ve become curious to uncover the story behind the masks.
Everyone wears a mask
On a certain level, we all deal with fear – the fear of others seeing who we really are or seeing our true selves. The fear of confronting the beliefs which limit us. This fear, this avoidance, causes us to wear one kind of mask or another, thus becoming anonymous – safe from our own selves, hiding behind walls we have constructed.
We let fear hide our true self, of exposing our truth.
Our mask hides from ourselves and the world, our real and most beautiful parts. The mask is colorful, decorative, and creates an impermeable external beauty between ourselves and the world around us.
Often, we become too used to the mask – which is comfortable, soft and warm – but can also devour us, not letting anyone get close enough to see the inherent beauty beneath.
To find our authentic selves we have to stand tall and confront our fears, dig deep into the most obscure parts of ourselves, deep into that "terrible" place where our fear hides and is so ominous.
As in nature, if we dig deeper we will find not darkness but light; not ‘nothingness’ but hidden treasure; and thus by removing the mask, we will discover a wealth of light instead of shadows . . . it's a kind of ‘game’ we play with ourselves. We will not understand how to find the light until we have removed the mask. This involves a ‘leap of faith.’ Beauty is the understanding that this light is our true self, our authentic self, covered over the years layer upon layer, for so many reasons and due to many life events.
I sensed this game while I was watching the Mask Festival in Venice – they allowed us to approach and then they drew back; they played for the camera and then shied away momentarily. They posed for the audience playfully, but there were no features of joy or smiles on their real faces and we really could not get too close.
Everything remained hidden, secretive, aloof and distant behind the impressive and beautiful façade … At the end of every performance the players remove the mask and return to the true story of their lives, to themselves ... until when?
Now I'm the photographer as well as the writer.
While arranging the many pictures I took during the festival, I decided to jot down some of my inner thoughts, associatively and spontaneously, like a child.
What had I really felt about the people wearing the masks? What were the messages they conveyed to me? What had I sensed, or understood from them? What caption was I associating spontaneously with each of them? What did I imagine was their background story??? What background story emitting from them did I sense?
I thought about the masks for a moment and many questions came to mind: Why did they chose this particular costume? What was the story behind this particular mask? What secret? What does the picture show??
These are the titles that came to mind:
'The Elephant Man & Frankenstein' –how the audience responds to deformity and disability
The ‘Scanner’ – examining everyone ... observes everyone from a distance
'The Queen of Darkness' – a wicked and devious witch
"Beauty for a Day" – to feel beautiful & really get attention...
"The Audience’s Favorite" –an opportunity to be at the front, just for one day ...
"As if a Couple" –the feeling of togetherness and cooperation ...
"The Whisperer & her Confidant" – a "forbidden" relationship behind the mask .. Shshhhhh !!!
"Terrifying Dracula " – feeding on human blood in order to live forever ...
"The Lovers" – today we can be "us" in mask only ...
Above, I am happily sharing with my "new friends" the play of imagination expressed in my blog. They loved the idea and asked questions. What a fascinating encounter... I was invited to play again next year -send me a ticket- 😊. I plan to write the blog in Hebrew, but I promised them my blog in Italian and English, and it is already being uploaded...
I came to my hotel amused and tired, but also full of thoughts – encased in a whorl of mystery and imagination... Was it only my imagination?
Was it a reflection? A reflection of my image? What did I see about myself? Who am I? What is my authentic self??
What is your Mask? What is your Dream? Share it with me and let me share mine with you
So, let's get real. Lose your mask. Show your true self! You are good enough!
** I continue writing my own book like an eagle swooping to his destination. It left the nest about 3 years ago, but will soon find his place in the light 😊 So stay tuned!