In my current practice, I combine elements of sculpture, fine art, performing arts and theatre in order to create series of masks and headdresses. I have studied theatre, performing arts, and the making of theatrical masks, so naturally my previous studies act as starting points in my work. However, I intend these masks to be viewed first and foremost as sculptural objects, not unlike the other small papier-mâché sculptures I sometimes create, and not as theatrical costumes. I occasionally photograph or film myself wearing the masks, and in those instances the masks can be seen as representations of my concurrent practices in both the fine art and performing arts worlds. In an exhibition setting, the masks are usually grouped together according to their themes, and I install them in various playful ways: on the wall, hanging from the ceiling, or on mannequins, often shown alongside photographic or moving image work.
What most interests me in these masks, is tied to the possibility of wearing them: hiding the face or a part of the face, I get a chance to play around with the idea of simultaneously hiding and revealing and creating new layers and meanings. Through the masks I often create alter egos or roles for myself, which can then be hidden or performed more visibly. Performing the characters and presenting the masks can be done either subtly or extremely theatrically, and the characters as well as the masks themselves may even be over-the-top or carnivalesque. The masks and the characters they create enable me to research themes of identity, society, and social norms.
The masks usually form thematic wholes. For example, the “Childhood Helmet” series tackles subjects such as childhood and memory. My parents recently sold my childhood home, and I salvaged all my abandoned childhood treasures, such as toys and die cut scraps, which I then proceeded to work into my masks and other sculptures. I combine materials intuitively, exploring the theme as I go along. Occasionally the masks are absurd, and absurdly playful, not about anything specific but rather exploring materials, colour, and the subconscious. At other times, a clear statement or idea drives the process; for example, the feminist “My body, my choice” mask argues for bodily autonomy. What the masks have in common, is a certain rough, unpolished aesthetic. I do not need my art to be beautiful; often ugliness can be interesting and mesmerising, too.
I enjoy hearing my audience’s interpretations of the masks. What appears scary to one, may be hilarious to another. Sometimes someone sees in a mask exactly what I have seen, but those moments are rare. I believe that my sense of humour and my partiality to humour that is dark or even black usually reaches the audience, even when the topics are difficult, scary, or political. My alter ego The Chicken, for example, has been seen as a funny character, even though it originally depicted my struggles with living in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. While I do not intend my work to be comic as such, I do not mind such a humorous reading of it.
My work also includes performance art, contemporary theatre, paintings, installations, sculptures, and media art.