The same-ness

The same-ness

This piece uses the mirror to emphasize how our perception of ourselves is shifting based on social, inter-personal image perceptions. Seeing others about the way we see ourselves, and seeing ourselves through the way others see us. We all trying to become unique and individual and ending up becoming the same as everyone else. 'Super black' paint allows canceling any reflection on the mask that turning anyone looking in the mirror to see the same image as anyone else in their own reflection.

"US" exhibition description

Who are we really? Contemporary identity is a construct of multiple layers of our self, shaped by our culture, family, ego and personal experiences. These layers synthesize a complex intertextual blend of projected selves, occupying our interpretation of the roles we assume throughout our lives.They act like masks that we always wear, and choose which one to project each time: our own perception of the son/daughter, the lover, the worker, the friend, the stranger, the cool person, the rebel, the mentor, the…

Some masks represent positive aspects, values, and energy but most are constructs of our desires presented to the world. The mirror is the first time our ego is being realized and soon enough it turns to some form of vanity, the more we look the more we reinforce the mask of or external appearance. Society’s continuous ‘thirst’ to exhibit idealized images, looks, styles, and personas are pushing us to multiply our masks accordingly. More recently social media construct a set of contemporary mirror-masks that make us project the most aspirational image of our selves, a total make-up that never fades.

Do any of these masks reveal more than they conceal? Can a single mask represent who is the real us?  Or we make masks to hide from others but we end up hiding from ourselves?

We are supposed to live in an era of absolute freedom to be anyone we truly wish. Yet in our constant search for authenticity, we end up looking and sounding more like the same. Suppressing our true non-perfect, fragile, romantic, silly, strange selves for an idealized image of unintended same-ness. Our desire to be different leads us to a severe crisis of identity.

This is especially the case for young generations in China trying to establish what it means to be contemporary Chinese. Caught in between one of the greatest and longest cultural traditions in the world and the fastest and most sudden pace of progress and opening-ness ever documented. Armies of masks of the past fiercely colliding with those of the future for the title of the mask of the present.

Our project challenges us to look back at our own masks and see them not as definitive versions of our essential selves but as representations of selected attributes (whether lived or imagined, physical or symbolic) that have been edited and constructed to tell one of many possible stories about us.

Through this mixed-genre art experience event, we wish to challenge all of us to see at our masks critically but constructively, to tear those that harm our inner essence and keep those that nurture it.

Lena Killina
Vasily Betin