Hypnotic Portraits Attempt to ‘Unmask’ Human Emotion

Curators’ Corner

Hypnotic Portraits Attempt to ‘Unmask’ Human Emotion

Romina Ressia What Do You Hide?

Romina Ressia is at it again. On the heels of her imaginative series ­Not About Death – Superheroes after they’ve died, the Argentine photographer has kicked off 2015 in style with What Do You Hide?, a mesmerizing photo series that utilizes vibrant textile patterns to illustrate the complexity of human emotions.

Troubled by our species’ millennia-old tendency to ‘mask’ our feelings in the presence of others, Ressia began working on What Do You Hide? last year. Her artistic aim was twofold: To shed light on this mysterious human condition, and more importantly, to give her viewers the courage to shed their own masks.

Harkening back to the success and acclaim of her previous portraiture projects, Ressia used bizarre head coverings and other accessories to dehumanize her subjects. The disorienting portraits feature androgynous wigged figures masked in a polka dot, floral or checkered fabric head garb. The background wallpaper, usually classical-inspired, stylistically clashes with the subject’s head cover design. Ressia deliberately mismatched these patterns to show the futility of camouflaging our emotions. By trying desperately to fit in and feel accepted, humans ultimately feel even more isolated and further stripped of their individuality.

“I think we all have light and darkness inside. Human beings can be adorable and hateful and I love to show both sides,” Ressia told Slate. “In this project, for example, I found it interesting to make portraits of things that are considered negative in a colorful and beautiful way.”

Ressia prides herself on honesty at all times, even in situations when society teaches us to keep our mouths shut. If people were more up front about their feelings, she says, the world might be a better place.

“Sometimes I am told there is no need to say everything you think. I hate falsehood; well, everyone does I guess, but I get totally upset in front of lies, that is maybe the reason why I made this project. If people would pay more attention, they would be surprised to identify how many things we do to please other people’s expectations, to be approved or not be criticized. Then I think I am not exempt of this.”

Romina Ressia’s body of work will be on display at the Arcadia Contemporary Gallery in New York City as part of the “Celebrating Women Artists” in April 2015.

To view more photographs from What Do You Hide?, visit Ressia’s website.




Photos courtesy of Romina Ressia