Imprints of different faces
Forty-four “plaster masks” have been created by Raffaella Galdi between 2002 and 2007. They are now employed within the research project “human bodies words objects” (starting in 2013).
The masks, made out of white plaster bandages, are light and have a stiff, strong and unbreakable texture. Their inner side (the exterior surface of the faces) is the most intimate, because it was directly in contact with the skin of the models. There are visible marks left by eyebrows, hair, moles and other special features of each face. Instead, the exterior side is rough, because the structure of the bandages is remarkably visible. The imprint reduces the faces’ image to their most essential. The cavities of eyes, nose and mouth are open. The models are human beings. Their choice is not defined by canons concerning age, origin, religion, or any other type of selective judgment. Any person interested in the collection can take part on it.
Talking from the past (present)
Below, you find a few extracts from Raffaella Galdi’s diary, which further explains the concept behind the masks.
During a visit to my friend Marie’s house, I saw for the first time three of these masks, plaster imprints of faces. What fascinated me most were their simplicity and extraordinary visual power. Located next to each other, they appeared the same. Only by approaching, I noticed their uniqueness – just like human faces (and bodies) which are structurally the same, but unique in their diversity. From the principle "equal but different" I came to the idea of creating a collection. Collecting (gathering the same element multiple times) is the basis of this principle. The visual fascination of this assemblage is based on the representation of the subject (the human face) and the amount of the elements that create it. I observe how nature itself proves this fact continuously. One can recall the cells that make up the human body or big groups of very small fish, such as plankton, giving the illusion to be a single living being although in reality they are small, many and independent in life. I made the first plaster imprint on July 15, 2002 in Berlin. Initially I placed a limit of two years for the completion of the whole collection. But during the process I realized that I would not be able to meet that date. I also wondered if a specific time limit was really necessary. Today I came to the conclusion that a deadline for carrying out the project is not necessary. This last statement, however, is not absolute. Today is December 4, 2003.
What’s my purpose? To create and collect the plaster masks of a hundred people’s faces. Gather forms, time, energy from different people. The experience of creating an artwork on a long term, not conditioned by external pressure such as time, money or any other type of compromise. The inner urge to concretize the vision of an idea. This work is for me like a Mandala, but I dare not call it such. The creation of each mask requires time, energy, patience, relaxation, privacy, availability, openness; positive elements tending towards a universal sense of peace. I'm sure this process of creation gives life to a special message. Masks and Models. The masks have a stiff, strong and unbreakable consistency, light, white in color. Their inner side (namely the exterior surface of the faces) is the most intimate, because it is directly in contact with the skin of the models. There are visible marks left by eyebrows, hair, moles and other special features of each face. Contrarily, the exterior side is rough, because the structure of the bandages is remarkably visible. The imprint reduces the faces’ image to their most essential. The cavities of eyes, nose and mouth are open. The models are human beings. Their choice is not defined by canons concerning age, origin, religion, or any other type of selective judgment. For me, any person interested in the collection can join in. But actually I realize that the models are chosen from the idea itself. I say that because I met people reluctant to touch or cover their faces with chalk. Some have told me their discomfort for not being able to speak or move freely for an hour. Others, however, have lived this experience as a time of relaxation and meditation. Till now, the models are friends, acquaintances or people close to me, coming from different countries around the world, especially ranging between twenty and forty years of age. Only two people, my parents, are sixty years old.
I have this idea about identity, which came to my mind by reading the Rui Horta work-shop notes (concerning the creation of the dance solo “Legna”) and also by watching the white masks hanging on Marie’s wall: IDENTITY - MASK. I see masks hanging in a dark space. What’s a mask? What’s identity? Maschere, identità. Identity. Recognize what you are. Recognize others. Being aware of your own existence and that of others. Identity: get an idea about others. Awareness of the entity. An entity is defined by its own characteristics. Features, character. Facets. Faces. Aspects. Each mask represents a part of yourself. As in every person a part of you is reflected. True Identity. Vera Identità.
Mask: cover, hide, conceal, change face, change external identity. Surface entity. Outward appearance, close to the skin. Taking the essence of facial features. Give an appearance not necessarily realistic to the entity. Shape. The mask is a shape. It may be, become, a symbolic form. Symbol associated with a person because it takes the most (facial) outstanding features.” (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masks
Personal identity is the distinct personality of an individual and is concerned with the persisting entity particular to a given individual. In philosophy, the issue of personal identity concerns several loosely related issues, in particular persistence, change, sameness and time. The personal identity structure appears to preserve itself from the previous version in time when it is modified. It is the individual characteristics arising from personality by which a person is recognized or known. Identity may be defined as the distinctive characteristic belonging to any given individual, or shared by all members of a particular social category or group.” (Wikipedia).
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