Bogomir Doringer

Faceless: Statement

The premise of this exhibition is to explore the common occurrence of images of hidden faces in the creative arts. I first became acquainted with the notion of hidden faces a decade ago, while still in the fashion industry. Through my collections I experimented with covering models’ faces in masks or hair, thus attempting to make a statement on the constant "overdose of beauty" and artificiality permeating contemporary society through the media. This suggested a possible return to masks as a solution for covering destabilized identities.

Throughout my art studies and practice, I have been striving to bind together fashion and art - inspired by sociopolitical investigations. After noticing the like-minded interest in the subject matter, I began to collect a variety of faceless works to try and understand why they exist and what they are trying to communicate.

September 11 and its consequences came about in an important phase of my creative development and have had an impact on my interest on facelessness ever since. It would be fair to say that this event was one of the triggers that provoked this tendency in my work. The fear of terrorist attacks led to a change in security concepts and the instalment of surveillance systems in public spaces – presented to us as if for our own safety. As a result, we feel that our faces are becoming "compressed" and exposed. The only way for us to regain this lost privacy is through subversive media strategies or by reinventing privacy.

Following the events of 9/11, images of masked faces of terrorists became dominant in the media; repeated as a ghostly, unknown presence that reminds us of the unsafe time we live in. At the same time, throughout Europe people began to pursue a ban on burqas. Events like the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands led to public discussions on the impact of Muslim culture through Muslim minorities on so-called "western values". I explored this metaphorically in my graduate work "Deranged", where the artwork and the viewer are simultaneously deranged by each other’s presence.

In addition to the loss of privacy, the rules of modern technology demand that we be constantly visible. Social networks, initially developed as platforms for communication, came to define standards of everyday activity and lifestyle. They approach us with the promise of serving as tools for self-promotion, then increasingly invade our privacy with our express consent.

The unstable identity of the present begs for the return of power of the mask from ancient times, when it was used as a form of protection, disguise, performance, or just plain entertainment.

Faceless is a two-part exhibition exploring a phenomenon present all around us: the fashion of "facelessness" that appeared in the creative arts at the beginning of this century and has remained popular since then. The exhibition reminds us of the impact that media-generated images can have on the creative arts and the ways in which they respond to public images, pop culture, and the mainstream in general.