“Unmasked” is a portfolio of psychological portraits blending fantasy and reality. The work explores the inner life and emotions of imaginary characters. The subjects are masked, so the viewer to project him/herself more easily and experience sympathy and empathy unabashedly. The masks are worn by both live models and mannequins, contributing to the ambiguity on what is alive and where reality lies.
The characters are like protagonists in a play. I am interested in their internal life. My images do not tell stories per se but offer snippets of context, suggesting narratives, allowing the viewer to feel the dramatic tension of the subject’s internal/external conflict. My masks are like props with symbolic meaning. I ask the viewer to look beyond the mask to engage on a deeper level.
I experiment with different materials to make the masks. I am primarily interested in the power of the mask as a device and receptacle of emotions.
Perception is a mix of subconscious sensory stimulation combined with cognitive activity. This simultaneous brain activity triggers a slew of sensations that we recognize as emotions and organize into structured thought. The cognitive mechanisms involved in processing information rely on learned notions which influence and orient our understanding of the world. So much of perception is filtered, inhibiting us from truly seeing. The masks are a metaphor of this.
Masks are disturbingly inexpressive, yet powerfully evocative. They function on a formal and spiritual level. Many cultures venerate them as reservoirs for the human soul, able to materialize the immaterial. How they come to life and reveal human interiority is magical.
By concealing the wearer’s identity, the viewer sees beyond the mask, beyond the way they commonly perceive reality and connect with a heightened reality.
AUTHOR: Emmanuelle Becker FRANCE
Emmanuelle Becker is an artist-photographer living in Paris. She has an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. and a master’s degree in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. Her photographs have been exhibited in in Europe, the United States and Asia. She is the recipient of multiple awards. In 2020, she was awarded first prize in the 15th edition of the International Pollux Award in the Architecture category, received an Honourable Mention in the "Street Photography - series" category in the 15th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, an Honourable Mention in the "Conceptual Photography" category of the 2020 edition of the Minimalist Photography Awards, and an Honourable Mention in "Portraits Without Faces”, presented by the PH21 Contemporary Photography Gallery in Budapest. This September, her portfolio, “Cabinet of Curiosities”, was published in The Eye of the Photograph.