On 1 September 2017 the exhibition POWERMASK – The Power of Masks, curated by Walter van Beirendonck, opens at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. The Wereldmuseum is giving the Antwerp fashion designer a free hand this autumn to present his own unique, multi-faceted vision of the phenomenon of masks.
FASCINATION WITH MASKS Walter Van Beirendonck has been fascinated with the phenomenon of masks since the 1980s, and incorporates them into his fashion collections. A mask transforms your persona, conjures up a certain atmosphere, and has an immediate impact. In the past, masks have inspired artists such as André Breton and Pablo Picasso, and even Pieter Bruegel the Elder. POWERMASK delves more deeply into masks and their various facets: the links between Western art and African masks, the supernatural and rituals surrounding masks, masks in fashion, masks as fetishes, and numerous other aspects. Visitors to the Wereldmuseum will be transported by Van Beirendonck to diverse worlds in which masks play a role.
CHEERFUL AND IDIOSYNCRATIC Van Beirendonck selected over 125 masks from the Wereldmuseum’s large collection, to which he added masked costumes and fashion silhouettes. The main components of the diverse galleries are exhibits of photography and fine art. The design is colourful, cheerful and idiosyncratic – like Van Beirendonck’s fashions. The walls are taken up by installations by the contemporary artists Brian Kenny (b. 1982), Coco Fronsac (b. 1962), and Charles Fréger (b. 1975), which are combined with a variety of masks from Africa, Oceania, Europe, and America. In addition, historical and present-day film material gives a lively picture of the ways in which masks were originally worn by men and women and of their role in rituals.
With works by Diane Arbus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Björk, Hans Bollongier, Louise Bourgeois, Olaf Breuning, Thom Browne, Dietmar Busse, Claude Cahun, Christophe Coppens, James Ensor, Charles Fréger, Coco Fronsac, Phyllis Galembo, Jean Paul Gaultier, Craig Green, Homei, Gerrit Rietveld, Henri van Straten, Alois Bamert, Edward Curtis, Christian Dior, Erik Halley, Keith Haring, Axel Hoedt, Stephen Jones, Folkert de Jong, Lajos Kassák, Brian Kenny, Manon Kündig, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, James Merry, Robert Mapplethorpe, Maison Margiela, Paul McCarthy, Niels Peeraer, Bertjan Pot, Richard Quinn, Augustin Rebetez, Hans Schärer, Cindy Sherman, Saul Steinberg, John Stezaker, Maiko Takeda, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Viktor & Rolf, Sally Wassink
Photo credits from top to bottom: Walter Van Beirendonck, Hand on Heart, Autumn/Winter 2011–2012 Photo: Ronald Stoops – Tony Saulnier, ‘À Paris, rue Jacob, le Dîner des collectionneurs de têtes’, 1966, published in ‘L’art nègre’, Univers Match – James Ensor, Skeleton arrests masks, 1891, oil on canvas, 30,5 x 51 cm, in private residence – Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Anastasia, 1995, duraflex print, 80 x 80 cm – Facial mask, Dan Mau (culture) – Louise Bourgeois, Untitled, 2002 - Dirk Van Saene, Autumn/Winter 2016–2017, Photo: Ronald Stoops – Group portrait of malanggan-dancers from New-Mecklenburg, New-Ireland cultureS, Bismarck-archipel, Melanesia, Oceania, ca. 1920, Collection Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, inv nr. RV-A080-15
- Verim-mask, New-Ireland (culture), New-Brittannia, Bismarck-archipel, before 1909, Collection Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, inv. nr. 31869, Lemaire, 1951, collected by dr. Lau, Namatanai 1909 – Wildeman, Schembartbuch, Neurenberg, ca. 1590 – Charles Fréger, Orso di Jelsi, Italy, 2010-2011, from the series Wilder Mann
POWERMASK – The Power of Masks Curated by Walter Van Beirendonck 1/09/2017 – 7/01/2018 Wereldmuseum Willemskade 22-25, 3016 DM Rotterdam, The Netherlands T: +31 10 270 71 72 www.wereldmuseum.nl Tues until Sun from 10AM until 5PM, closed on Monday
This exhibition is sponsored by the Bankgiro Loterij, Gemeente Rotterdam, Hans Boodt Mannequins, the Erasmusstichting and Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht