Avigliano - a traveling exhibition of papier-mâché works by Nicholas Toce
A fox beheld a mask and said, "rare the headpiece, if but brains were there!" (From the fables of Phaedrus.) Many who have visited the exhibition of papier-mâché masks in the villages of Basilicata have asked this about these masks depicting figures from around the world that were created by the Lucanian artist Nicola Toce, of Aliano to be precise. (Aliano is 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, southwest of Avigliano.) The brothers Grimm once wrote: "Every man who is far from his homeland is given a good angel who follows him as a companion on the road as he starts his life", and they continued: "masks, like fairy tales, are able to capture the pure thoughts of a child's observation of the world, in part because of the way they are disseminated, in part, by their very nature; they feed on the go, as milk, light and pleasing, or like honey, sweet and nutritious, without the heaviness of the earth." Likewise, the creation and vision of the papier-mâché "horned masks" by the Lucanian artist symbolize a clear message: to provide an identity to those who use it. It is an identity of "other" that overlaps that of man - for ritual needs, community or social, and real-time, temporary or permanent. Which justifies the aura of mystery and occult that always accompanies the realization of the mask artist of Aliano, making it the preferred means through which beings, animals or man himself wearing the "horned mask" are revealed in all their anthropological importance as archetypal shadow figures. "... And the mask is revealed as the representation par excellence whereby they project their own hidden emotions ...". All that remains is to hope for the rediscovery of a renewed dimension of wholeness and balance, providing the wearer of his favorite Nicholas Toce mask in the Carnival which is celebrated every year in Aliano, in the beautiful surroundings of the park badlands, the ability to imagine timeless and mysterious travel. But at the same time aware that he can take it off when it's time and when he deems it appropriate. This keeps alive and active some of the most interesting traditions of the Lucanian landscape, transmitting knowledge and skills to new generations. The purpose of the touring exhibition of the Lucanian artist is to introduce the Alianese papier-mâché mask as part of Lucanian cultural heritage and to contribute to the development of a broader audience. What better way to end, if not with the words of Carlo Levi, in Christ Stopped at Eboli, in which he wrote about the masks of Aliano that he encountered during his Lucanian journey: "They came in big jumps, yelling like enraged animals, and boasting of their own screams. They were masked peasants. They carried sheepskins in their hands, dried, and rolled up like sticks, brandished menacingly, and used on the backs and heads of everyone who did not step aside in time. They looked like demons unleashed; full of fierce enthusiasm...". They were the "horned masks" of Aliano, which still represent zoomorphic and anthropomorphic beings that differ from one another by giving each mask its uniqueness and at the same time allowing the author to fully express his creativity in the use of colorful papier-mache.
Original article by Enzo Claps
Cathy Farrell
categoria: ARTE E CULTURA