I saw the first performance of the reinstated Hahoe masks drama at the Andong
Culture Centre in the early 1970s. I have
envisioned taking photographs of these mystical and artistic treasures ever
since. I was reminded of my dream after experiencing
the international festival of photography, FotoFest 2008, Photography from
China: 1934-2008, in Houston, Texas, USA.
A work plan was developed on my way back from Houston and I started photographing
this series in May 2008. Currently, my series "Mask, Unmask"
examines the artistic and psychological aspects of the masks. In the next phase to be completed in 2011, "Compromise
and Harmony" will explore the spirit of mask dramas and their sociological
and historical meanings.
These nine marvelous masks originally were created early in the 12th century
and were constantly unmasking the shadows of the human psyche: pride, egotism,
ignorance, flattery, conflict, isolation, and hypocrisy, and so the mask dramas were
understood on a subliminal level. While I was behind the camera, I became introspective about these
characteristics as well.
I am grateful for the vision and support of the leaders of the City of Andong
for the publication of this photography book and the accompanying exhibition,
"Mask, Unmask." I wish, also, to express my appreciation to Mayor Kweon, Young sae, Dr. Kim, Hwi dong, (former Mayor of Andong) and to Mr. Whang, Zoo
wha (Director, Division of Tourism & Industry of the City of Andong) for
their cordial patronage of fine art and culture.
Cheon Kyong Ae Monica