Among the various projects born during these past months of quarantine, one of the most interesting, for both the way is conveyed and its visual strength, is the MASK digital exhibition, curated and organized by Alice Floriano.
It is interesting for several reasons: first of all for the theme, certainly current not only because of the coronavirus, but in general for a strong presence and return of the mask in all contemporary visual culture, not only in jewelry, but also in art, in design, in fashion (I talked about it for Not Just a Label HERE); secondly for the spontaneity with which the project was born and the enthusiastic response of both the public and artists; finally for the delicate and poetic realization, which combines the many contributions made in a video.
Dozens of artists responded positively to the call, which came out a few weeks after the start of the lockdown, and contributed in a personal way to tell an intimate and collective experience.
Not only jewelry artists, but also creatives and designers have joined and participated in a sort of narrative made of distortions, alternative perspectives, twisting, ultimate purposes to which the mask has always been called to respond.
Languages full of stories, tales, and provocations populate an Olympus of fantastic and imaginary creatures, who look at us, while also questioning us about our existences. Because basically the mask does this, it observes us, first of all, confusing us. It is a reflected gaze, in which we fall as if in a vertigo.
Among the most varied materials and original forms, the mask is a vehicle for transmitting a message, a content, a state of mind and being.
From left to right: masks by Daniela Scorza; Anu Kirkinen; Clô Peruffo.
I had the pleasure of asking Alice a few questions about this experience, about its birth and the new ways of fruition and creation practices it generated:
I. How did the project start?
A. The project started in my second week of quarantine. I was watching the virus spread, clueless as to how everything would turn out here in Brazil. I decided to postpone almost all of the gallery's projects to 2021. You need to keep working and find a way to support the artists. Even though many artists have been (and are) frozen because all of this, there are many others eager to continue. And I feel that this exhibition turned out to be a respite in the middle of all this for those involved.
I. What is the purpose of the virtual exhibition?
A. The objective was to raise awareness of the current situation and our new conditions as citizens. It was clear that the mask was present very quickly and is an item that will probably remain a part of our outfit. Never have so many people in the world been locked in their homes at the same time, nor have so many worn a mask.
The virtual world is now a solution among the solutions we have. And it ends up uniting in a new way.
It was our most visited exhibition in the gallery's history. Over 3000 "visits".
I. What does the mask mean to you?
A. The mask is a powerful item. Since the beginning it was used in rites of passage, in ceremonies.
It can carry many symbolisms. Depending on your intention, wearing a mask can be somewhat transformative. It may generate a kind of absence, allowing you to become whatever you choose. It can nullify you, as well as empower or protect you. I have a small collection of them at home.
From left to right: masks by Katherine James; Deniz Turan; Into Niilo.
I. What kind of proposals did you receive?
A. The most varied. From simple proposals for embroidered masks, to masks as an instrument / manifesto, with a more political nature. Masks that implored care for the environment, masks that questioned each person´s identity. The origins ... Some invoked shamans for the future, others only placed us as observers of the barbarism Brazil (and the world) has been going through.
I. How did you select them?
A. It was tough, and I also liked a lot of pieces that didn't make it. But I sought consistency regarding the theme - projects of quarantine, statements, creative solutions ... I tried to select pieces of different themes and techniques.
I. What is the message these creations aim to convey in general?
A. Basically they sought a place to belong and to express themselves. Everyone in a sense felt trapped. I think a lot of artists brought some of their life stories to this work. This is a delicate moment. It makes people rethink the direction of their lives and their paths.
I. Did you notice a greater participation of any specific nationality of the artists?
A. I had never had so many Brazilians participating in an exhibition. Not least because we don't have many contemporary jewelers in the country. But this open call was for visual artists, jewelers, designers and fashion designers as well. We had 73 artists from 24 countries.
I. How would you define this experience and what are the negative and positive aspects compared to a traditional exhibition?
A. It was a unique experience both in project monitoring as in planning. Not seeing it up close, thinking about expography in a subliminal way ... The opening, for example, was something unforgettable. Everyone was willing to talk about their project and the current circumstances. The comments and exchange were very special. Never in my life I could imagine a virtual vernissage, with such complicity. It lasted four hours and a half. But it was possible. People from all over the world, together. A world on a screen. I miss the "real" setting up, the texture of the pieces, to accompany people in the visit and see eye to eye what impact the works are having on them. I like to celebrate, I like to welcome people to the gallery. But the whole world is going through this, and the important thing now is to think about the collectivity. I continue keeping my doors closed, and I value everyone's safety.
I hope everything will pass. Even if things are different. As they will be.
From left to right: masks by Mariana Genoveze, Steve Alexis, Sotiria Bramou.
The Alice Floriano Gallery opened on 2015 with the aim of promoting the contemporary jewelry as an artistic movement and cultural expression, in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil.
It represents both established artists and new talents of the world scene, giving space and visibility to those who are at the beginning of the career but already shows a consistent works.
On 2017, a new experimental space was inaugurated in São Paulo, with a duration of 6 months.
Since 2018, it acts in a punctual and itinerant way in the capital of São Paulo and in other Brazilian cities, to increase the opportunities of public access to this extraordinary portable art still not very widespread.
Curator: Alice Floriano
Exhibition designer and art director: Alex Sernambi
Assistance: Laura Goldstein and Marilia dos Santos
ALDAHIR MONTAÑO FLORES
ILARIA DE LORENZI
JOÃO PEDRO VELLACO