A photographer, a grotesque pioneer, explains us the role of masks in his art.
Nihil is a heretic hypnotist of the senses. Moves around in strangle holding isolation cells, wearing glassy cloaks and gas masks. His camera depicts the sacrament, which espouses only the destruction and alienation, while his facades are non stopping coatings of the one and only ultimate nothingness, the absence in disguise.
Nihil declares to be a photographer, digital artist, writer, collector of surgical tools, user of psychedelic essences, explorer of the city culture, amputations enthusiast, great fan of the industrial culture, asceticism, organs trafficker and so on. Addicted to photoshop and a dreamer photographer, Onzieme doesn’t let anything in question, his photographs are a cult.
In your Art one can see many different types of masks, from gas masks and gags to bird’s heads. What’s your favorite one?
If we’re talking about regular masks, I’d probably choose a gasmask. When wearing one, you can’t help but hear loud sirens and clamors of war. It talks about bombed ruins, about toxic vapors in trenches, about panic movements in Tchernobyl. All these moments when humans look like what they really are: fragile ghosts trapped in a collapsing world.
However, I’d still prefer some kind of thick veil over a gasmask because it works both ways : it prevents the world to see you and prevents you to see the world. Some things have to be hidden.
How exactly do you use these masks in your Art? Is there something specific you want to through that?
It looks like I needed to state something even before knowing it myself. After depicting a dozen of models with masks, I had to ask myself this same question.
In my case, I tend to see this as a symbol of the search for identity. My characters have no face because they are no one and try to figure who they could be. They aren’t individuals. A huge hole open right in the face would work, too. I myself dream of being someone, really someone, and not some awkward assemblage of appearances.
Is it some kind of fetish?
No, not at all. More along the lines of an obsession. I use masks and veils as a symbol of refusing to deal with mere reality, protecting from it.
Do the artists wear masks? (Literally and figuratively)
Figuratively, everyone wears masks. Some people wear masks on masks on masks. When you remove one layer, you stumble upon another false appearance. But who has an actual face under these? Remove the illusions and you won’t find anything but emptiness. We have no face we just build ourselves upon void foundations.
You’re much inspired by religion. How do you combine masks and holy stuff?
All around the world, mystic doctrines teach that the goal of humanity is to merge with divinity, denying illusions of movement, destiny, life to drown in infinity. To do that, one has to refuse mere material world and reject every parcel of humanity.
If you look at religious art, from Buddhism to christianism, saints doesn’t look like humans: they look like beautiful, serene and empty dummies. They do not have any humanity left; their identity has been drowning in divinity. They do not belong on our dirty, mortal, material plane anymore: they only wear human faces as masks. I use the same technique, with actual masks.