In this first episode of the series, ventriloquist, comedian and documentary film-maker Nina Conti, inspired by the Oscar Wilde quote: “Man is least himself in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth” explores why and how masks allow us to step out of our psychological skins and be someone else.
Along with talking about the origins of the V for Vendetta with David, who is delighted the mask has become such a symbol of protest (but says he’s too cyncical to wear it himself), Nina also talks to David Bowie-inspired artist Mark Wardell; members of the band Slipknot; and her puppet Monkey (or should that be alter ego?) talks to members of the American feminist arts protest group, the Guerilla Girls.
It’s a fascinating thirty minutes of TV, stabbing holes in the pretentiousness of some arts programmes thanks to Monkey’s acerbic comments whilst also genuinely celebrating its subject matter, rounded off with a segment where Nina joins members of the brilliant Trestle Theatre at their base in St. Albans, a company well known and deservedly highly regarded for their mask work, both on stage and in education.
With both witty and pertinent observation and some fun wearing masks, Nina really gets under the skin of mask wearing as art, and it’s a show well worth a view.
• Artsnight Season 2 Episode 19 is available on iPlayer for another 29 days here
• Check out David’s digital anthology Aces Weekly at www.acesweekly.co.uk
• You can buy all sorts of V for Vendetta gear – and the original graphic novel – from Forbidden Planet and other comic stores
• Nina Conti is on tour in the UK from the end of February through March 2016. Official site: www.ninaconti.net
• More about the art of Mark Waddell visit www.trademarkart.com
Marks’ work explores issues of identity, portraiture and the self created personae prevalent within the entertainment, club and urban sub-cultures and has been featured on magazine and record covers as well as prestigious club related campaigns worldwide. His work has generated press stories and been exhibited to acclaim in museums and galleries internationally and in 2013 he was commissioned by the V&A in London to create a (sell out) edition of 300 ‘Silver Duke’ David Bowie life mask sculptures in conjunction with the museum’s blockbusting ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition.
• More about the Guerrilla Girls at www.guerrillagirls.com
The Guerrilla Girls describe themesleves as a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks. They have produced posters, stickers, books, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large, using humour to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. “We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities. Dubbing ourselves the conscience of culture, we declare ourselves feminist counterparts to the mostly male tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. … The mystery surrounding our identities has attracted attention. We could be anyone; we are everywhere.”
• Slipknot are on tour in the UK from 8th – 15th February 2016. Official site: www.slipknot1.com
• Trestle Theatre are at www.trestle.org.uk
Launched in 1981, Trestle is a mask and physical theatre company based in St. Albans, with a highly regarded arts education programme. As a charity, their mission is to engage children, young people and adults in creative activity, which aims to enhance the cultural quality of their experiences.
At Trestle Arts Base, this extraoridnary theatre company offer high quality shows in the theatre and you will find regular classes on every week in the studio. Everyone is welcome in our Gallery Café, which hosts a variety of exhibitions by vibrant new artists. The spaces at Trestle Arts Base are all available to hire for celebrations, meetings and performances. Every week, Trestle delivers Mask sets and a wide range of participatory work somewhere in the world from Ireland to India, Switzerland to Scotland and has also taken performances to Barcelona and India