Anxiety Masks: A Collaboration with Linda Hall
I gave birth to a daughter in the midst of the pandemic. Like many mothers around the world, I am now raising a child who has little opportunity for social interaction with people, let alone people not wearing a mask. She struggles to make sense of half-covered faces, encountered at a distance, and I am left wondering how this uncharted environment is shaping her emerging self-identity.
Linda Hall’s Anxiety Masks offer a similar form of protection to the ubiquitous medical mask, providing shelter from the world to those who wear them. Exquisitely crafted, they are also elaborate and whimsical, comforting for some and alienating for others. Although she has been making masks for years, her works now carry different meanings in a world where everyone wears one in public. The visual cues on which we traditionally depend to communicate are absent to us. In their place we are greeted now so often with an inscrutable masked face.
My photographs explore this body of work in varied environments—some private, some public, some commercial, some recreational—to see how they are transformed by different contexts. Unlike most face coverings, the Anxiety Masks cover the entire head and sometimes the whole body. Precisely because they are so idiosyncratic, they serve to replace the experience of expressive legibility.