Robert Eugene Meatyard, has a series of photographs that consist of people with mask, often doing very normal things.
The children are not doing anything special.. They are simply sitting, with mask on. Yet the un natural look the mask give the children does not scare me. It just makes me laugh. The simple act of putting on a mask makes the children ( and in other images, adults ) just look silly. I wonder if it is just because in American culture, this is something we are accustomed to seeing. Every year, Halloween rolls around and millions of children and adults dress up, often sporting similar faces. If this was taken to a different culture... Would this be scary? Should it be? I'm not sure, but either way, from the knowledge and exposure to this holiday, I get a sense of playfulness with these images.
Seeing the more developed human form wearing mask, adds an additional sense of play. I also enjoy the small detail in this photo, of the slingshot, a child's play toy in the boys back pocket. The difference between this photo and the others too, is the change to color. For some reason adding the element of color to this series also adds a lighter feel to the image. I'm also not sure if this is because film photography specifically black and white is done so little now, that any time it is done, I am programmed to believe there was more artistic intention behind it.. This seems like almost a silly notion, but so often that is how we view film photography especially black and white. It's serious, it's educated, informed. What a load of trash that is. To think that a work of art has less meaning because of it's medium is nonsense. Yet, that is exactly what I got upon seeing the difference from black and white to color. The image still appears to be film.. Just colored film.
This photograph is one of my two favorite ones from this series. My first reaction was, "Aw, how cute the monster couple is in lovvveeeee ". And then I laughed. The adults wearing these mask make me happy. I guess it is because these mask do give a sense of play to me. So to see the two adults wearing them and exchanging signs of affection, leave me to believe they are being goofy with one another. Enjoying each others company in a childlike fashion. Being a child is healthy. It's exciting when childhood creeps into our all too serious adult role.
I enjoy many of his photo's.. But this series just seems appropriate for the season. Enjoy the weather, play in it, and enjoy art in all of it's forms. Be light in heart.