Accepted Paper:

Collage and Mask: crisis aesthetics of the pandemic.  
Cathy Greenhalgh (Independent) Lucietta Williams (University of the West of England)

Paper short abstract:

The collage functions via appropriation, juxtaposition, recycling and aesthetic distanciation. The mask is a new visual space used as slogan and decoration, as much as decoy and protection. This paper explores the connections between collage and the mask via two projects undertaken during lockdown.

Paper long abstract:

Collage / photo-montage is known as an associative combination form of media, images and text. It often uses appropriation, juxtaposition and recycling for deliberate incongruity, shock, and transgression. Masking as a tool within editing and digital image manipulation denotes revelation, concealment and layering. The mask, or 'face-covering' has rapidly evolved as a new space of expression and identity during the Covid-19 pandemic. It can be used as protection and decoy, slogan and decoration. Indeed, it is a new kind of mini-canvas or screen on the human face in movement through our socially distant workplaces, shops and public transport. Both the mask and collage are a type of 'quodlibet'; a pinboard or collection point of changing ideas. In this paper, we explore two projects which respond to the pandemic through collage, concentrating on both the making process and images of masks themselves that appear in the work. These are Covid Collage Chronicles (Greenhalgh), made on cakeboards with recycled magazines and 'Masquerade' (Williams) using found image in both hand and digital manipulation. We view this collage work as an appropriate way to approach the cacophany of terrible news, as a mode of (aesthetic) distanciation and therapeutic response to the crisis, and as a penetrative ethnographic device in a form of visual anthropology. We draw on theories of strategies or techniques in relation to the mask and collage (Baldacci et al, Banash, Bruno, Cran).

Panel P08b
Mask: the Face of Covid-19
  Session 1