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