Monday, 22 March 2010

MASQUERADE

In case you don't recognise us (we've had rather a lot of worry lately!) this is David and I attending the re-opening-in-new-premises-party of one of our favourite local restaurants, Amici...

Masquerade
Everyone was invited to wear masks so we selected a couple of Venetian ones from our own collection.

As anyone who's ever visited Venice knows, pretty much every other shop sells Venetian masks - many of which - if the naive tourist did but know it - were made a long way from Venice and imported for sale to souvenir-seeking day-trippers!

There are, in fact, only three or four authentic mask-makers left in the city, compared with some three or for hundred mask shops!

And you wouldn't believe how many of them have notices in their windows advising potential purchasers that they were the exclusive providers of masks for Stanley Kubrick's 1999 film, Eyes Wide Shut. Some even have testimonials from Tom and Nicole. You'd think, bearing in mind what a turkey the film was, that they'd want to keep quite about such an association!

But I digress, the masks we are wearing above were made in Venice - David's in papier mache and mine from leather with horse hair eyebrows!

This be-crystalled confection, on the other hand - despite being offered for sale only a few hundred yards from St Mark's Square, - was made by Swarovski of Austria...

Moon Maiden
And a great many of the masks on sale don't even carry that pedigree.

However, if you know where to look, you can find authentic mask 'laboratories' where the antique crafts are still practiced...

Disguises
In such establishments you can buy the beautiful...

Masque
Or the beastly...

Bestiary
Or a little something to tickle your fancy...


Once a year, at Carnival (just before the beginning of Lent), the masqueraders take to the campos, calles and bridges and decorate this already elaborately decorative city with outlandish flowerings of exotic costumery and eccentric masks for the benefit of post-card and art-book photographers and the general wonderment of tourists who imagine, quite wrongly, that they are getting a peep at what Venetian life was like back in those rudely, romping days of Casanova and Co.

Never mind, Venice is a theatre and the mask-wearers are - like everyone who visits the city - performers on its stage...



Photos of masks © Brian Sibley, uploaded via flickr. You can see more of my photos of Venice (and elsewhere) on my flickr Photostream.

14 comments:

Good Dog said...

David’s mask looks like one of perpetual surprise. Brian, as for your one, I wouldn’t want to be sitting wearing that during a violent sneeze.

Loved mooching around the mask shops in Venice, although in the end I just brought back some wonderful stationary instead.

Eyes Wide Shut a turkey? Surely some mistake! I think “misunderstood classic” is the correct description. (But then I might be biased).

suzanne said...

i've got 1! very simple leather, but i'm quite proud that it's from 1 of those workshops!

Eudora said...

Must be great be in Venice during the carnival. Hard to choose a mask,all the masks are beautiful.

I like the mask of David, especially made for people, like he and me, who wore glasses.

Brian Sibley said...

GOOD DOG - Oh, Lor! Did you work on it?? Perhaps I need to watch it again...

Wise move about the stationary, because - unless you display them on a wall - masks are (99% of the time) not a practical addition to daily life!


SUZANNE - What are you doing - typing messages when you're in a full body cast?! :0

Leather masks are very special: being made from skin, they have their own, very particular, form of life.

Brian Sibley said...

EUDORA - Many apologies: your comment hadn't reached me when I answered the others.

Choosing masks in Venice is hard and it is made harder (with experience) because what looks fabulous in a shop window FULL of masks doesn't always look quite so impressive back home, hanging above the telly!

Yes, David managed to wear his mask and his specs - I, on the other hand, had to take mine off - which then meant I couldn't see anything! Also, my mask proved a bit too challenging when it came to eating and drinking!

suzanne said...

takes more than a plastered arm to shut me up!
nessia: mask of... guess what!

Good Dog said...

Brian,

Oh, I wish. No, I meant being biased as a big Kubrick fan. The film has its faults and it’s certainly not on the top tier with Dr Strangelove and Barry Lyndon and the like, but I think audiences – if not some critics – were expecting something very different from what they got.

The only person I know who really got it was Michael Dudok de Wit and I remember we had a very interesting conversation after both of us had seen the film independently. If you do ever watch it again, remember the English translation of Schnitzler’s source novella and pay attention to the Christmas trees.

Brian Sibley said...

I don't remember the Christmas trees at all... :(

SharonM said...

I think your mask makes you look like something out of Star Wars, Brian!

Glad you managed to fit a pair of buns into the Blog - the Sibley Blogspot has been knickerless for quite some time now, so I suppose we must be grateful for small mercies.

And talking of knickers etc., having just arrived yesterday, in a somewhat exhausted and frazzled state, we haven't contemplated venturing into Playa Del Ingles yet. But, I promise, I'll take my camera when I do so.

Brian Sibley said...

SHARON M - Have a really great (and well deserved) holiday! :)

Good Dog said...

You only really notice the significance of the trees when you see what happens to the last one.

Sharon, since you're here. I know it's very tardy of me but I've finally got around to reading the absolutely joyful We Could Possibly Comment. Interesting because the farms my folks owned, Foxcote and then later Ford Farm, were on the lane that runs from Tedburn St Mary to Dunsford.

It's a small world, but it still won't fit in my rucksack.

Brian Sibley said...

OK, OK, I'll watch it again...

By the way, I'm glad you read and enjoyed Sharon's book about Ian Richardson; and I really like your line about the rucksack!

Lady Locker said...

Hello mister!
I need your masks photo to complete my post. but don't worry, I would tag your name, your blog-link inside.
thank you very much, sir.

Brian Sibley said...

OK... :)