We all wear a mask, only sometimes it has become so familiar to us that we may not even notice it anymore.

It was William Shakespeare who so appropriately stated that the whole world was a stage, “and all women and men are mere players, they perform and then leave.” He was probably right, and masks help us to become the players that are needed for the piece right now. We can hide behind the masks if we’re scared. But we can also use the mask to be brave. A mask lets us show cheerfulness to the outside, even though it is dark and lonely deep inside us. The mask is the same. It has only one purpose, only one appearance, one function – when it is no longer needed, we put on another cover.

But masks also make it possible for us to live the intensity in ourselves. Behind the protection of the mask, we can be our self. The woman, who has been languishing for a long time from afar, can be confronted behind the protection of a mask and courted. We can live the intensity of our creativity. Once a year, be the colorful bird we want to be. Behind a cover, we’re undetected and safe. The conventions of society may still apply, but not to us. Or perhaps the agreements do not apply at all on these days. When we meet with all the others, who suffer under the same constraints behind their masks, unspoken prohibitions, shyness, everything that prevents us from being the way we want to be in everyday life.

Once a year such people meet in Venice. They flood the lagoon city with colors and shapes, which some people only see in a painting in an art gallery during the rest of the year. People from anywhere strange and unknown to the community, although no one knows who is hiding behind the mask of their counterpart. You don’t even want to know. Not asking the question about the person behind the mask is perhaps one of the few rules that apply these days.

Whether the masks are cheerful and colorful, or melancholic and monochromatic, outfitted, or ugly, they make us all the same. The rich, who bought their piece of jewelry in the most expensive shop, or the one who handcrafted the mask himself and perhaps puts aside every cent for the rest of the year to be there on these days. The simple citizen who let himself go these days, the childlike homosexual who cannot live his phantasy on other days because society would punish him for it.

These days they all come together. On this one day, they are all themselves, and strange as it may sound, they owe these days to their masks.

The photographer
Davorin Wagner was born in 1951 in Zagreb, then Yugoslavia. The family later moved to Frankfurt am Main, where Wagner began working as a surgeon at the Northwest Hospital after studying medicine. At the same time, he has always been on the road as a photographer and artist. In addition to landscapes and portraits, he also combines both areas with surgical photography. – www.photoimagine.org