Fetish Critique #3

Layers of Masks (artist: Anna Rose)

When I was a child, I had a strange dream, maybe it was even a nightmare: It was one of those dreams where you seem to be on drugs, loud, hectic, crazy, overbearing. Maybe you know these, dreams that feel like you’re in a fever. And no, it wasn’t a wet dream, it was just a crazy over-the-top experience. That must have been what speed feels like. Well, anyway, I saw this man in my dream: He seemed kind of dangerous, although I don’t know why, because it was bright, he was bright. Maybe it was his mad laughter.

Or his ominous sunglasses.

The sunglasses, that is the point of the dream: He had these huge, dark sunglasses and I went to him, to take them off. But beneath those there was another pair. And another. And another. You know, where this goes, right?

Another and another. I never got to the person behind the shades. He laughed.

Coming to think of it, maybe I saw the same trick on TV in a commercial or something. It sounds pretty 90s…

I tell you this because I saw an interesting performance on youtube, which reminded me of that dream — although much more enjoyable.

At the Montréal Fetish Weekend 2017 American artist and model Anna Rose — who’s known for modeling as well as for her label http://www.alterpic.com — did a performance called Layers of masks of which you can find a video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WarIJ-6t5X0, although you must be 18 to view it:-P

A lot of masks. A lot.

Let’s delve right into it!

Part 1: Analysis
The video is presented by SkinTight Production (my research on who that is didn’t really come up with any results, but it doesn’t matter anyway) and shows Rose herself sitting on a chair on stage. One of the most archetypical theatre situations. We hear a remix of Emily Browning’s 2011 interpretation of the 1983 Eurythmics song „Sweet Dreams (are made of this)“ and see the performer in a black latex dress and a black hood which completely encloses her head. The mouth part of the mask almost looks like a pig’s snout and with every breath she takes it moves. Like an otherworldly creature she looks around until she finally takes her collar of and pulls the mask off: Just to reveal another beneath that. It resembles the first one, but as she pulls out an air pump from a nearby placed bag we can see where this is going: This as an inflatable hood and with a huge amount of joyful anticipation (which she pantomimes with her legs) she blows the hood up. But if you think that’s been all, you’re in for a surprise, because as she pulls that hood of there’s yet another one, this time a white hood with perforated eyes and a mouth opening. By now you’re maybe surprised how she could breath under those three hoods — you’ve seen nothing yet, because under that there’s yet another hood, this time even with an attached rebreather. And when she pulls that off we come to the last hood, a transparent nurse mask. Finally, the restricted breathing comes to an end — or so you should think. Anna Rose pulls another rebreather out of the bag and starts to use it excitedly, at one point even holding it like a baby then licking it. Can’t get enough of that rubber. Then a knowing smile into the audience and the show is over. Time to breath.

Part 2: Review
What makes this performance so fascinating? You can hear the audience cheer and obviously it’s impressive from a technical point of view: To wear five masks over your head while performing on a stage is no easy task and requires complete control over your breathing. It is the idea of transforming which makes this performance so intriguing: Normally a transforming fetish would be the performer becoming something else, e.g. rubberdolls, female masks etc., one identity becoming another. But in this case Anna Rose focuses on the act of transforming itself: In a steady flow of movement she transforms into several rubber identities. You ask yourself when you see the performer, if ever, but at the same time are hypnotized with the sheer craziness of her transformations: A rebreather under an inflatable hood? How the…? What the…? Of course Rose as an obviously skilled and experienced performer catches your attention with her part-cheery, part-playful, part-down-right-pervy acting, with an almost childlike excitement she browses through her heads as if she herself discovers something new underneath every time.

Part 3: Verdict
Mystery for mystery’s sake: Anna Rose takes the idea of identity transformation fetish and turns it up to 11. The act itself, which normally serves the purpose of becoming something/somebody else, suddenly is in focus here and there’s a whole new artistic view an transformation fetish itself: The enjoyment of the act not the result. At the same time the suspense is almost killing the audience: With Hitchcock-like foreshadowing we all know, that at some point there just can’t be another mask but until we get that point there are a lot of surprises on the way. Infinite possibilities. Infinite sunglasses to hide your identity. Of maybe the identity just isn’t the point anymore in a world of constant transformation.

Title picture by the artist