I am examining elements of the ‘self’ in relation to my mixed Japanese-Canadian heritage and the space between defined margins; where the outer persona turns inward or where the line between ‘beauty’ and 'grotesque' becomes blurred. I am trying to separate myself from physical appearances, which is often how we are defined and labelled, especially at first glance, and can lead to stereotypes and discrimination.
My masks are three-dimensional representations; created by dissecting, distorting and reconstructing my image, as a way to present multiple iterations of my 'self'. The photography components feature layered images, wearing the masks as a ‘false face’ or a 'second skin' and as a window into the unseen/unknown. With each variation of mask and image, I am attempting to continuously focus in on the transitory nature of identity, duality and 'in-betweenness'; to reveal and embody something previously hidden.
There is a new awareness of the relationship between masks and our faces due to the pandemic, making this work so timely. I invite viewers to stare as long as they wish, well past the point of rudeness, and to consider all these faces as my own and to question why different masks might evoke different responses. As a group of self-portraits, I hope the viewer looks deeper and sees a part of me (and ultimately themselves) in all of them, or perhaps 'in-between' all of them.
Miya Turnbull, 2021