070909: Museum für Völkerkunde: We are MASK

Museum für Völkerkunde: We are MASK Far more than carnival The exhibition at the Vienna Museum of Ethnology pursues man’s never ceasing quest of his own self and the different roles that we all (must) play in our life – either voluntarily or to meet others’ expectations. Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio’s portrait cover from the Uffizi in Florence magically attracts the onlooker. It depicts a mask whose ribbons are held by two grotesques who in turn each brace themselves on yet another mask; the inscription “Sua cuique persona” – “Each his own mask” in the middle. This verdict is programmatic for the exhibition and was originally intended as the exhibition title, but made way for the simpler “We are Mask”. The visitor can hold a copy of this mask in front of his face while walking through the exhibition, and if one does this throughout the entire presentation, there is a surprise in store: one’s mirror image reveals one’s “own” personal “mask” – or “true” face. There are seven stages between the Florentine original and one’s own mirrored-mask image. The works, associatively arranged by Sylvia Ferino-Pagden’s team, lead to amusing and surprising combinations. Karl V’s Medusa shield and diverse tournament helmets are found in immediate proximity with a film requisite: Darth Vader’s helmet from Star Wars. And beautifully embroidered full size veils of Afghan women are also displayed. Are these also masks? Evidently. This exhibition is distinguished through this kind of intellectually- scrutinizing and simultaneously playful approach. The basis of the exhibit is provided by numerous works from collections in Vienna, from the KHM, the Musems for Ethnology and Theatre, the Albertina, the Vienna Museum, MAK and MUMOK. Among the works are also loans from foreign countries. One of the oldest masks in the world, a stone mask from Paris, was created around 7000 BC, others come from Rome such as Bernini’s “Medusa” or the “Infant Dionysus with mask”, as well as paintings by Poussin, Guardi, G.D. Tiepolo, Longhi and Lippi (see the exhibition poster). Fashion designer Capucci’s mask dress “The Jewellery Woman” masks by Sartori and Stiefel, video art (Orlan), Picasso’s “Great Snow Owl” as well as Daniel Spoerri’s “Mask Yoke” are examples of recent works. This exhibition proves that masks, despite their diverse origin and purpose, have a joining theme throughout all cultures and all along have met mankind’s basic needs. By Maria-Gabriela Martinkowic Museum für Völkerkunde 1010 Vienna, Neue Burg, until 28.09.09 www.ethno-museum.ac.at

Weltmuseum Wien
1010 Wien, Neue Burg
Tel: +43 1 534 30 – 5052
Email: info@weltmuseumwien.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich außer Dienstag 10-18 Uhr

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