One of the things I'm doing while in Sweden is taking a course in Drama Communication at Linköping University. This course is the last in a series of three that I have been doing over the span of several years. Hopefully it will help me get work in that area one day.
This semester we have been focusing on masks.
The book I'm reading on the subject right now is "Self Presentations in Everyday Life" by Ervin Goffman. A book that analyses society in dramaturgical terms. It's written with a dry sense of humour that makes it rather an enjoyable read. He speaks of or "persona" which is Greek for mask, and how every role or persona we assume in life is a product of a cultural context that produces "selves". Goffman tells of how we always play roles, and says that it is in these roles that we know eachother, it is in these roles that we know ourselves.
So the theory part is very interesting, but we've also created some real masks! Pics below show the process.
First, you need a plaster replica of your face. Slightly eerie...
I'm painting with concrete on the inside of the plaster mask
the mask is carefully dried, then you add another layer, let dry, add a layer....
On top of the concrete, you can mold a ceramic mask with a fixed expression.
My ceramic mask is finished
on the inside of the ceramic mask, concrete is painted on in layers to create a concrete mask with the fixed expression or ornaments of choice. Once the ceramic mask is separated from the concrete it usually cracks...
... which creates some interesting visual effects!
some pieces of the ceramic mask were hard to part with, but they are not durable.
I have painted my "fixed expression" concrete mask.
The original concrete mask can be used as a base on which to mold half-masks or masks with new expressions. The concrete is a little too heavy for dramtic use, but plaster is always good if made in thick layers.The following 3 masks are from an exhib of masks at Musée d'Orsay, Paris. And here are a few from my own collection of Venetian theatre masks: