Wiebke Leister: Echoes and Afterlives

Echoes and Afterlives looks at the boundaries between embalming and enmasking: being in a skin and under a skin, in and under a mask, looking at a mask and seeing through a mask as something that equally changes gait and voice, while playing with sensations of displacement and transformation. It treats the human face less as a façade, but rather as an object that – even though central to our understanding of what it means to be human – is only ever in the process of approximating a subject: being filled by a subject, worn on the face of a subject. Possibly inverting the relationship of who sees and what can be seen.

A valuable reference point for this project has been the teaching of Japanese Noh theatre, in which the mask works as an extension of the actor: nuanced like a face, while the face itself is displayed as an impassive mask. This is exemplified in the actor’s ritual of holding the mask to face him in an act of greeting, prior to shoeing the mask and stepping onto stage. This moment of face-to-face communication is said to allow the actor to become an other; a symbolic pact of mutual recognition and association. When the mask folds onto the face the actor becomes enmasked while the mask has become enfaced, establishing a liminal space between subject and object. The actor appears to be one with his mask, while the mask becomes animated – accentuated by the angle of the head and the play of light on its many surfaces, reflecting a flow of ever-changing expressions.

Not unlike photography, mask-play results in emotive light images. At the same time the liveness of masks is essentially pro-photographic. The work seeks to visually translate this sense of a living object into photographs. It meditates on the moment in space and time when a mask meets a face and how the relationship between object and actor is established across the gap between two surfaces. This process combines two artistic gestures: the performer’s gesture of donning the mask and the equally performative gesture of translating facial mask and masked face into the photographic plane. The whitened face here works as a non-representational space: an empty stage, a placeholder or insertion that alludes to imaginary characters, emphasizing the reality of an inner experience while evoking a sense of premonition and awareness.

The exhibition is accompanied by an edition of Fieldstudy, published twice a year by PARC since 2002. Fieldstudy 22 will be launched with a performance on 14 May 2016 at the event ‘Masking and Enmasking: Noh Theatre as a Strategy in Contemporary Art and Performance’ during the two-day festival ‘Noh Reimaginged’ curated by mu:arts for Kings Place, London.

http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/music/noh-inspired-1-masking-and-enmasking-noh-theatre-as-a-strategy-in-contemporary-art-an#.Vw1fOEt4Gao

Wiebke Leister is a German artist and writer based in London. She is course leader for MA Photography at London College of Communication, co-organiser of the Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub and a core member of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre. Contact: w.leister@lcc.arts.ac.uk

Wiebke Leister: Echoes and Afterlives
3 May to 24 June 2016

Open Tuesdays from 12noon to 3pm, and other times by appointment.

Opening party
Tue 3 May, 4.00 to 6.00 pm

PARCspace, London College of Communication, Room W224.

To RSVP for the opening party, please contact Robin Christian r.christian@lcc.arts.ac.uk

 

For press photographs please contact Robin Christian at r.christian@lcc.arts.ac.uk

www.photographyresearchcentre.co.uk

www.facebook.com/PARC.UAL

www.instagram.com/PARC_UAL

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Wiebke Leister: Echoes and Afterlives

Echoes and Afterlives looks at the boundaries between embalming and enmasking: being in a skin and under a skin, in and under a mask, looking at a mask and seeing through a mask as something that equally changes gait and voice, while playing with sensations of displacement and transformation. It treats the human face less as a façade, but rather as an object that – even though central to our understanding of what it means to be human – is only ever in the process of approximating a subject: being filled by a subject, worn on the face of a subject. Possibly inverting the relationship of who sees and what can be seen.

A valuable reference point for this project has been the teaching of Japanese Noh theatre, in which the mask works as an extension of the actor: nuanced like a face, while the face itself is displayed as an impassive mask. This is exemplified in the actor’s ritual of holding the mask to face him in an act of greeting, prior to shoeing the mask and stepping onto stage. This moment of face-to-face communication is said to allow the actor to become an other; a symbolic pact of mutual recognition and association. When the mask folds onto the face the actor becomes enmasked while the mask has become enfaced, establishing a liminal space between subject and object. The actor appears to be one with his mask, while the mask becomes animated – accentuated by the angle of the head and the play of light on its many surfaces, reflecting a flow of ever-changing expressions.

Not unlike photography, mask-play results in emotive light images. At the same time the liveness of masks is essentially pro-photographic. The work seeks to visually translate this sense of a living object into photographs. It meditates on the moment in space and time when a mask meets a face and how the relationship between object and actor is established across the gap between two surfaces. This process combines two artistic gestures: the performer’s gesture of donning the mask and the equally performative gesture of translating facial mask and masked face into the photographic plane. The whitened face here works as a non-representational space: an empty stage, a placeholder or insertion that alludes to imaginary characters, emphasizing the reality of an inner experience while evoking a sense of premonition and awareness.

The exhibition is accompanied by an edition of Fieldstudy, published twice a year by PARC since 2002. Fieldstudy 22 will be launched with a performance on 14 May 2016 at the event ‘Masking and Enmasking: Noh Theatre as a Strategy in Contemporary Art and Performance’ during the two-day festival ‘Noh Reimaginged’ curated by mu:arts for Kings Place, London.

http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/music/noh-inspired-1-masking-and-enmasking-noh-theatre-as-a-strategy-in-contemporary-art-an#.Vw1fOEt4Gao

Wiebke Leister is a German artist and writer based in London. She is course leader for MA Photography at London College of Communication, co-organiser of the Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub and a core member of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre. Contact: w.leister@lcc.arts.ac.uk

Wiebke Leister: Echoes and Afterlives
3 May to 24 June 2016

Open Tuesdays from 12noon to 3pm, and other times by appointment.

Opening party
Tue 3 May, 4.00 to 6.00 pm

PARCspace, London College of Communication, Room W224.

To RSVP for the opening party, please contact Robin Christian r.christian@lcc.arts.ac.uk

 

For press photographs please contact Robin Christian at r.christian@lcc.arts.ac.uk

www.photographyresearchcentre.co.uk

www.facebook.com/PARC.UAL

www.instagram.com/PARC_UAL