There is something fundamental about masks. We have worn them throughout the ages and we wear them figuratively every day. The work of Damselfrau, working name of artist Magnhild Kennedy, is a stunning example of the power and beauty of the Mask.
In Visual Atelier 8, Damselfrau was asked:
It can be argued that the mask exists as an art object, as an investured pseudo personae, as a hiding space, as a symbolic representation, or even as a simple cultural adornment. With this multimodality of meaning in mind, is the mask as everything here stated, and more, or might it in your view, possess one quintessential overarching quality?
In reply she said: The main power is transformative. Most of all it’s simply just fundamentally human, isn’t it?
I also think some things exist past our ability to fully articulate them. A mask belongs there. A part of me wants to know the what and how of them… but then I step back, step back and allow the magic to be there free from dissection and cognitive comprehension. Much like ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, dissecting something magical robs it of its power and removes its mystery, it takes something wondrous and places it into the mundane.
For me, and it is very personal how creatives tackle this, the alchemy of creating stories and the writing process are in that same situation. I don’t want to dissect a story, I don’t want to disect why it has come to me, or why I am driven to create it; I simply want to be in the experience of creating it.
Damselfrau says something similar about her mask making, she says she doesn’t plan, she just remains present with the mask as it is made, following the journey the materials take her, not trying to plan or ‘design it’ as such.
In my stories, I specifically leave some of the aspects of character and motivation unexplained not only to the reader but to myself as the writer. As a reader and even as a the writer, its comforting to know, to ‘see behind the mask’ of a character. But by getting that insight into a character we categorize them, slip them into a box. Their magic leaks away. Stories and the characters in them need magic and power to make you love them, to have them resonate with their symbolic and archetypal lineage.
The other element of not fully explaining a character is that we are ostensibly hidden from ourselves. We don’t fully know why we do what we do and why we feel as we do, even if we think we do. When I write I don’t always look for answers so much as congruency, that sense that the flow of a character feels right to itself. I think a character can’t be fully revealed and consciously resolved to themselves. As we have our figurative masks in life they do too; they can be resolved to a satisfying level to the reader but not fully and most certainly not to themselves.
As a writer, I find the process of writing one that almost asks me to step into a character much like stepping into the mask, placing it on and looking through it, imbuing oneself with its world view and the world’s view of it.
Have a look at her work and see what you might wear ….. I have chosen some above that would easily part of Elsa’s world….