Living with a mask: photographic portrait of what we have lost by covering the face

Quim Farrero he is able to recognize a person The one he hadn’t seen in 25 years. For names, he admits, it’s a real mess. But you will know what they do, who introduced them or where they first met. It happened that with the pandemic, and with the use of the mask, collapsed his ability to distinguish people, and began to reflect on this new garment. He did so, obviously, from the point of view of his profession: the Photography. He gave birth to a peculiar project, called ‘Lost & found, recovering the face’, which opens many fronts beyond the purely artistic and aesthetic of the image. The privacy, health, complex, shyness and even sensuality. And also a new way of relate. He portrays anonymous people in his environment, with and without him face mask, without ‘photoshop’ although it may seem like it. An authentic religious experience.

Go ahead that this veteran photographer, born in Barcelona in 1964 but settled in the Maresme, he does not question the use of the mask. Quite the contrary: it carries it and it will carry it when and where health authorities so indicate. What disturbs him and at the same time fascinates him are the changes it has generated. It started in January 2020 and already accumulates close to 80 models. Enough to realize that in most cases “the eyes do not square with the rest of the face“.

“That the look is the mirror of the soul it is absolutely false. I think that with the pandemic we have realized that the face is a set of elements that are needed and that one cannot understand each other. “That is, we can have wonderful green eyes, the cleopatra nose or Alain Delon’s smile, or quite the opposite, but the beauty, the harmony, the originality, the peculiarity and symmetry are generated by observing the whole. And each everything is genuine; authentic and unique.

There was a moment – scholars say that it happened about 170,000 years ago – in which the human being began to use garments to cover your body. The most sensible thing is to think that those beings dressed more for the climate or protection than for modesty or coquetry. Now they are very few who think about going naked, and thus things, what happens is that we have converted parts of the body, such as the genitals or the chest, basically the female, into areas almost always covered, hidden, protected. “If we wore a mask for much longer, we would realize that the mouth would end up being like an ass or some boobs. By not seeing her, he would become a taboo“.

The most delicate gesture

The production of the photos has had its crumb. Unexpected, everything has to be said. Quim traveled to the place chosen by each protagonist, usually his home or his place of work. Once there, the author was looking for a peculiar corner, due to the environment, and above all, by the light. After the first ‘click’ came a moment that has become one of the discoveries of this project: the intimate gesture of stripping someone of their mask, as if it were a garment of underwear. This is confirmed by some of the people, both men and women, who have posed for the lens of this photographer, well known in the world. world of the ‘utra trail‘for his 16 years portraying mountain racing all over the world for the ‘Trail’ magazine, created by the Nestor brothers and missed Nil Bohigas. Bushy beard, very long hair, thin, of few words, with a couple of cameras hanging from his neck and a vest with a thousand pockets. That is Quim Farrero, who will undoubtedly also recognize his students from Institute of Photographic Studies of Catalonia.

Silvia Omedes, cultural manager and director of the foundation Photographic Social Vision, organizer of the World Press Photo, accepted Farrero’s invitation because it seemed “a very good metaphor of the desire we have to undress, to return to normality. ” cool project and pretty, and very visually suggestive, because a good part of people’s expressiveness is concentrated in the mouth, and that is something that we have realized with the covid “.

A piece of cloth?

He is aware of the health value of the mask, but beyond being an essential protection in this trident that complete the hand cleaning and distance, “has also been a Wool piece that has hidden our identity. “” And some people will have done well, but I think most of us want to see the others again in its entirety. “It celebrates, however, the”surprises“that he has given away, those noses that one had not guessed and that appeared suddenly; or those lips with a life of their own that could barely move on his little and necessary prison.

Núria Fernández, art curator of the Diputació de Barcelona felt a strange feeling of comfortable helplessness when Quim approached, after the first photo, and gently removed the mask. The first times used a pen, but ended up using the thumb and index finger of both hands to perpetrate the maneuver of strip the face of your deck. “The pandemic came at a time in my life in which I am not interested in not being recognized, because I had been separated for just over a year,” she is sincere. “We have lived in hiding, without existing for many months, and the uncertainty, not knowing, has been the worst. “For Núria, the mask is synonymous with” transparency “, of going unnoticed, a feeling that she does not like but that she respects because there is something a lot more importantly, as is your own health and that of everyone.

Related news

Carla Gaggioli, producer of the Rac1 program ‘Via lliure’, knew Quim for his photos on instagram. When he asked for volunteers for his project, he signed up without thinking. But when he showed up at home, and despite the fact that his partner was at home, he couldn’t help “a some invasion of privacy“Sure she wanted to, but maybe she was realizing that the mask had become anything else than a piece that isolates the covid. They chose a spot in the dining room with a nice point of light and Quim fired the first burst. “The moment I took off my mask reminded me of that so intimate moment in which you listen the ‘click’ of your bra; the truth is that it was a very peculiar feeling, but at the end of the day I am happy to be part of something that in time can be a historical document.

Quim does not know what future awaits him for all this work. A photographic and audiovisual exhibition? A book? A website? For now, he will continue to portray people whom he removes the mask, inadvertently generating a special magic. When all this happens, and waiting for someone to bet on a project that will be a historical document of an exceptional stage, it will be seen.

Leave a Comment