Masks for the Modern Tribe
Masks have been traditionally used throughout history to express and explore different aspects of our human consciousness, be it through dance, ritual, theatre or war. Masks can help us become more than what we are, hide all that we don’t wish to be seen or protect that which we have. They are used to frighten, engage, conceal and entertain.
Masks have become an important tool in understanding tribes from around the world and how they think. They tell us of fears, spirituality, imagination, abilities and craftsmanship. This in turn teaches us about ourselves, where we come from and how we all think. For example, we (humans) have used masks to evoke the spirits of supernatural beings and animals to ensure a fruitful harvest or successful hunting expeditions, and to hide and protect us from what is seen or unseen, be it our enemies or evil spirits and bad luck.
Above all else, masks tell us about our ideas of identity as humans.
But now, in the first world, the tribes are gone, the hunt is only as far as the supermarket and we know that there is no mask to protect us from evil unseen, so what would the masks from OUR tribe look like? How do we define ourselves as tribe members now? How do we know where, or if, we belong?
Perhaps we only truly define ourselves now by how and what we consume and which brands we buy. Perhaps it is by letting others know our choices we can connect with them and exclude those that don’t agree, start our own new tribe, or join an existing one.
I like this one better than that one – how about you?”
Oh you drive one of those too, we must be the same, or at least have similar taste, welcome brother.
Utilizing techniques and materials that are more commonly used in industrial fabrication applications, “Masks For The Modern Tribe” is a series of works that discusses these ideas of identity using images of consumption such as food, interior design, technology, corporate logos and branding on thermoformed PETG plastic masks. These works explore an ongoing fascination with layers, and because what a mask hides is just as intriguing as the mask itself, a mirror is mounted behind the mask to allow for the hidden or inner layer of the mask to be revealed and explored.
…”Genetics have gone awry in Wimhurst’s world. Here we have a mammal that has evolved to thrive in a post-nuclear world, a creature of distended ears that can hear the bombs dropping from afar, its respiration apparatus evolved into a fleshy gas mask. A creature worthy of the surreal world of the cult film Donnie Darko.
Wimhurst is a bravura technician, creating his macabre cast of characters with the care of a surgeon. They peer from the walls like trophies or warnings – be careful what you wish for, they seem to say, but their silence states multitudes.
In each of these works you look into the eyes and regret that you did. There creepy-crawlies and alternate realities abound, and suddenly you are amongst them, like Vincent Price in The Fly, calling out “Help me, help me” in a shrill voice. Wimhurst has caught you in his web before you even know it.