With the lovely Galiya Serdalina as collaborator and using Venetian masks, I set up this photo session a few weeks ago in the Tribeca area of Manhattan.
Venice's Carnival began in the 11th Century - the original masks were rather simple in design and decoration & often had a symbolic and practical function. The wearing of masks and costumes was well established by 1436, when the mask-makers were officially recognized with their own guild. The practice of wearing masks for disguise reached its peak around 18th Century, when Venetians of different social classes used Carnival as an excuse to mingle without fear of recognition or retribution.
Venice Carnival masks fall into several categories: Commedia dell'Arte masks are based on traditional characters like Harlequin and Pierrot. Fantasy masks are figments of the mask-maker's imagination, although they may be inspired by historical designs & the traditional Venetian masks such as the Colombina, the Volto full face mask and its variant, the "plague doctor's" mask with its phallic beak.
An audio slideshow with Venetian music:
Here are full sized (and different) versions of the photographs made during the photo session: