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In the footsteps of Latin American masks

A series of documentaries on mask cultures in Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico

About the project

Follow us in Latin America to discover mask cultures through a series of documentaries which will take you from carnivals to popular festivals, from rituals to contemporary arts, and help you meet mask enthusiasts!

Primitive, diabolical, savage: there are few cultures that suffered more from prejudice and lack of understanding than mask cultures.  Many have disappeared without a trace, leaving only mysterious masks whose names or functions are unknown.   However, many of these cultures have survived.  Our objective is to durably preserve a trace of these cultures by involving the men that animate them and to spread knowledge of their social and cultural roles, which have attracted attention from many artists, from Picasso to Brancusi.

In Bolivia, Mexico and Ecuador where we plan to go, mask cultures are multiple.  Used during pagan rites, then helping evangelization during the time of the conquistadors, they take part in carnivals, Lucha Libre fights, religious and national festivals. They dress musicians during concerts and are unavoidable parts of contemporary art, invading street art and becoming souvenirs for tourists.

Since 2013, Mask Collective has been working tirelessly to spread information on mask cultures to a large audience by fascinating  videos* and enthusiast testimonies, with the goal of fostering dialogues between cultures.

Our video on the Zaouli dance in Ivory Coast which was been watched more than 181,000 times. And its remix with music from DJ Andy has already reached 13 million views !

Between January and August 2016, we will go to Mexico, Bolivia and Ecuador to meet with local sculptors, mask wearers and their communities to get, through their testimonies, a better understanding of their country’s culture.

 

DOCUMENTARIES

Masks allude to feelings: fear, disgust, joy, sadness, greed, power.  Masks incarnate aspects of the human soul, frozen into a character.  What is behind the mask? What are the feelings of the wearer and how do they convey this to their audience?

Mask cultures in Bolivia, Ecuador or Mexico being localized, we plan to go to at least 10 villages so we can encounter these local cultures.  From each of these regional cultures, we will produce a short documentary to interview those who preserve and animate their masks.  We will seek the origin and history of these mask characters.

If the itinerary is already determined, we are not yet sure of all the cultures we will work with. However, here are some examples.

ECUADOR

CAYAMBE, DESFILE DE LAS ROSAS

BOLIVIA

Diablada - Oruro

MEXICO

Tecuanes

 

WHY MASKS?

Dark Vador - Place du Dam

Masks are present in our societies in popular cultures or contemporary art.  It is a link between people, and between generations.   Masks tell the story of society’s evolution and its problems.  By studying masks, religion, politics, art, education are evoked.  This needs to be studied now.  Population moves such as rural exodus, political instability, conversions or the spread of a globalized culture have been weakening factors for traditional mask cultures.  These reasons contributed to UNESCO placing many of mask events on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  The only mask cultures that are preserved are these that transform themselves, which is why our objective in filming these documentaries aims to capture an image of these mask cultures for 2016.[E2] 

Mask culture is an universal language.  Masks are conceived, made and worn locally in faraway cultures, from Pekin oper  to the African bush, where it is used as a transformation tool.  Everywhere in the world, numerous traditions still alive give an important role to mask such as the Carnival in Venice, mask societies in Burkina Faso, the Opera in China but also in many Latin America countries.

Understanding mask cultures help foster an exchange between cultures around this singular yet universal object.  In each country which we plan to visit, we plan to inform the local population to discover faraway countries and their mask cultures but also to better understand their own local mask cultures, which are sometimes forgotten.   As an example, are you aware of the mask cultures in England, Canada or the US?

What are the funds for?

We have already obtained financing through the support of institutions, such as French Alliances, and their local networks such national museums, embassies, which welcome us to the local areas by financing part of the logistics.  We need additional support to  help us achieve this costly ambitious project (6 months in Latin America).

To save funds, the camera equipment will be provided free of charge.  We are asking for your support for elements that still require financing, such as

  • basic local living expenses for documentary production for 3 months for a total of 10 explored cultures,
  • travel expenses,
  • purchase of miscellaneous equipment for video production.

 We are available to discuss these points more in detail.

Production of documentaries in situ does not benefit from any subsidies, so to finance the work, we need the help of all those who are enthousiastic about culture, patrimony, history, of masks, superheroes, and fans of projects out of the main stream, but which interests carry over regional and international borders. 

If this project is of interest to you, please share among your network.  If you have any question about this project, please contact us and we will forward more detailed information.

About the project owner

Arnaud Iprex, as a mask enthousiast, shares his passion with his network, and all that he comes across.   Engineer by training, he has encountered mask cultures in his work as an artist and a painter.  He has produced 13 documentaries in China, Burkina Faso, Spain and Germany.  His goal is to help diffusing mask cultures.

Arnaud’s website is at arnaudiprex.com.

Marie Piquet has a international business master degree and spent almost three years in consulting. She was first exposed to mask cultures in 2013 while organizing the first Mask Collective event in Paris.  Since then, she has become an enthousiast by discovering what mask narrates beyond its simple image on dance, music, education and religions.  She will help you discover all that is related to a mask and will answer your questions in detail.  Marie has been a key individual involved in the production of documentaries in Spain, Burkina Faso and France.

FAQ

If you still have an unanswered question, feel free to ask the project owner directly.

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