“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.”- Marty Rubin.
What is behind the mask?
In the work I do, this comes back often. People say they wear a mask.
What do you show in the front and what do you hide behind?
A mask to hide sadness, a mask to conform to a social norm, to what we think is expected from us?
This is a topic that comes back on a regular basis in a coaching conversation, trying to be someone “else”. It burns out a lot of energy; it does not feel whole. Moving away from one’s authenticity.
So, when I saw that the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth was presenting an exhibit called the Language of Beauty in African Art, I could not resist going. This is an insight into various African cultures ideas about beauty, ugliness, mainly through masks, who they represented and why. Some masks are even representing both sides: the side that we show to the world – might represent domination, power, it seems to me often masculinity – and the carved part inside would show a more vulnerable face… sounds familiar?
Masks were on purpose made with different materials, used at specific events to convey a message not only as an object of beauty or visual attraction.
It was a great journey into different cultures of Africa and a great moment of exploration at a deeper level. I would recommend that exhibit, they present an extensive range of masks, and that museum alone has a peaceful vibe (and bonus point a lunch area that serves a home-made soup in a ceramic bowl and a salad in a ceramic plate with real fork and knife and a real glass made from glass… aligned).
This journey into masks and representations makes you think of this metaphor of the mask, about your owns masks. Are we wearing those masks to escape from a reality, are we wearing a mask to hide who we are?
This led me to watch the documentary, “the mask you live in” https://therepproject.org/films/the-mask-you-live-in/ and make connections to the exhibit.
Synopsis taken from the project website: “The Mask You Live In follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.”
“Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify, and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.
“The Mask You Live In ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.”
As a mum of a boy, I have often heard “boys will be boys”, this needs to be deconstructed. Letting them be, leaving the masks of a so-called masculinity; when not aligned, it takes so much space in the body and the mind that at one point it needs to burst out and then the situation is explosive. This is a learning process, for me too, every day.
And you, what masks do you wear and under which circumstances?
Link to the exhibit : https://kimbellart.org/exhibition/language-beauty-african-art?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=language-of-beauty&utm_content=tickets-on-sale&fbclid=IwAR34-W8ZEECxvsV9C2PdYk-Xl9kkZy1_tt8MeLbbFG67ODQjmcww93K1pRg