2018 - Ongoing
Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Shanghai Shi, China
Female Masking is a prevalent, hermetic, but yet surprisingly popular custom in the gender environment that combines Fetishism and Crossdressing. Masking is being practiced by men. The practice employs realistic, silicone costumes and masks that imitates female face and body.
The “female mask” that is worn by men might be found a construct of masculine imagination, a men’s variation on the image of female body that is being fetishized. In a way, the project resembles the rhetoric of Man Ray’s photograph, the “Kiki and African Mask”. Indeed, it is woman’s face that is a fetish, rather than a mask itself.
However, the very idea that a man can, in this case literally, enter female body, exceeds the superficial, erotic play. Female Masking derives from the notion that human beings combine of elements of two genders. A mask, either as a theatrical prop or as a social, metaphorical construct, serves entering an alternative identity and role. Thus, mask proves to be a medium that enables one to experience their female nature, while not entirely resigning from their native, male identity.
Simultaneously, masking in photography has a long tradition. Cindy Sherman and Ralph Eugene Meatyard are two among many artists who have employed masking as their main artistic strategy. In both cases a mask, understood as a mask of social role or a physical object, served juggling with identity and pointing out the social schemes, roles and models.
“Fetish of the image” balances between staging and documentary. It might be interpreted as a straight documentary on the particular subculture. Yet, it might be also perceived as a story about expressing one’s identity that exceeds the West-European, binary gender model and searching for ways to explore identity and sexuality beyond the social and political constructs.