Brilliant Disguise: Masks and Other Transformations explores the motivations and meanings behind masking and disguise, as it is manifested in contemporary art and in masks of different cultures.
Since time immemorial people have used masks and disguises as a means of assuming an alternate identity. In some cases masks allow the wearer to theatrically perform a character, in others instances the secrecy afforded by a mask permits the wearer to more freely express their true nature, still in others, the spiritual power or prestige residing in the mask itself becomes a channel for conveying power. From the festival to the confessional, masks protect their wearers from the societal judgments of everyday life, and allow them to function on an alternate plane. For artists working in recent decades, masks and disguise provide a means of portraying identity itself as a construct or a line of inquiry to be challenged and manipulated.
The exhibition Brilliant Disguise was influenced and inspired by New Orleans and its Mardi Gras, which has a rich history of masking. Brilliant Disguise: Masks and Other Transformations is organized by Miranda Lash, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at NOMA.