Floating City

Barbara A. C. Coelho

Barbie's pics

This is me wearing a Columbine mask

The experience of a mask can change much more than people actually think. A mask is not only a decorative object to hide your face–it provides you the chance to be a different person than your own self. Venice has had a strong masking culture for a long time. Centuries ago, Venetians took advantage of masks to conceal their true identity during Carnival. Life in Venice was based on social classes during the Renaissance, so people would pretend they were part of another social class to achieve whatever it was they wanted to achieve. For example, people could disguise themselves as nobles and do all sorts of ridiculous things; the intention in this case would be mocking nobles, making them seem like big buffoons.

Personally, when I wear a mask, I feel as though I add special features and characteristics to my own self depending on the mask I am wearing. For instance, a long-nosed mask, which has a mysterious and devilish feeling to it, would make me feel like someone of a mischievously foolish nature, very obscure and enigmatic. Conversely, if I wear a Columbine mask with flamboyant embellishment, I would feel like an elegant lady from the high society, and thus behave in a delicate, gracious way.

Barbie's pics

This is a long-nosed mask

Considering that people somehow “change” themselves when they wear a mask, I believe there is a connection between physical appearance and identity. Ideally, someone wouldn’t obtain a new identity just because their appearance has changed; however, a mask is oftentimes understood as a camouflage to serve a purpose. So, as I understand it, people end up creating another identity when they wear a mask because they are conscious that others are not seeing them as they truly are. They know their true identity is hidden behind the mask, so they might as well just act like someone they’re not. People communicate the most important feelings through facial expressions. Therefore, a mask can distort and even dissimulate the message that facial expressions make. This fact changes my perception of people, because then I cannot visualize what they feel, and what they want to express. A half face mask does not conceal much because a part of the face is still visible, but a full face mask can be extremely deceiving. One can never be certain about someone who’s wearing a mask.

Barbara A. C. Coelho