JAN KIRSTEIN

MIXED MEDIA PAINTINGS AND ARCHIVAL GICLEE PRINTS

WHAT LIES BEHIND THE MASK?

PANDEMIC MASKS

These images in the "Pandemic Mask Series" represent my perceptions of the collective subconscious during the emergence and continuation of the 2020-2021 Pandemic. 

 

The painting: "Today's Bubonic Plague Mask" is inspired by the images I have seen of masks worn by Doctors during the late 19th-century Plague and the 14th-century Bubonic Plague. These masks from the past featured a conal proboscis shape protruded from the front of the mask holding a variety of natural healing herbs. In my mask painting, the proboscis of the mask is spewing forth black oil, a commentary on how our entire economy throughout most of the world is based on oil.

The use of oil has resulted in the acceleration of everything from transportation and travel, to innovation, production, and communication.  This increased acceleration based on the use of oil resulted in the invention, testing, cooperation, and distribution of a vaccine for our virus that all happened faster than ever before during former plagues.

So oil becomes the means for a cure,  our natural herb, while at the same time remains a restricting and life blocking element for the environmental progress of the earth and its civilizations.

Wearing masks is part of our new reality. We wear masks today to protect ourselves and others from spreading the virus. In contrast, the African masks in these images were originally created to wear in ceremonies to connect with deceased ancestors in the spirit world. Ironically, during the Pandemic the mask has become a reflection of a sense of existential isolation rather than a means and purpose of connection.

I created these prints digitally from photos of masks I own or have found, combined with photos of pieces of my paintings made from acrylic paint, pastel, and Conte crayon on paper. I have combined these into colleges to observe, explore, and confront the collective fears emerging in our Pandemic world today. 

The mask can either isolate by screening or blocking what is behind the mask, or the mask can reveal what is in the subconscious mind, that which is behind the mask.