It was twelve years ago that I started making masks. An entry from my notebook at that time reads:
“A mask is a gate that leads to a different world. Putting on a mask, even with just a T-shirt and jeans, transports the wearer from reality to unreality. One can become the inhabitant of an incomprehensible world. Beyond the gate, words become poems and stories.”
I was thirty years old when I wrote those words. Spending my days thinking seriously on this topic, I was attracted to the potential roles of my masks.
Now the year is 2020, and I have turned 43. I still sew everyday, and I still think about the same ideas I did then. The trouble is, masks have acquired an entirely new meaning. Now that the mask has become a universal symbol of our world, can it still remember the story of that other world?
On October 20, I received a phone call from my friend. She told me Kenji Ozawa needed my masks. This year has already been strange enough, yet it continues to become more bizarre. I realized that people are meant to meet for a reason.
It has been a month since that phone call. For three weeks out of that month, I lived in a dream, making pieces from dawn to dusk. The spirit world, a parallel universe, unreality. I once thought it wouldn’t be possible for me to revisit the view I once saw at the end of each mask. Now, I know I must follow my own fox, no matter if the gate is open or closed.
I am attracted to the way this fox is just like a letter, written in the middle of the night.
My signature way of hand-stitching is like my handwriting. My stitching makes the fabric surface bumpy and uneven by pulling the thread more than is necessary, as my writing leaves marks on the letter paper from the pressure of my pen.
When threading a needle, I think of who will receive my work. My drive has never dulled.
Written & Photographed (Mask) by Shin Murayama
Photographed (Boy) by Haruhisa Shirayama