To Dream the Myth Forward--essay for 'Mask, Unmask'
In ¡°Mask, Unmask,¡± the artist works intuitively to create intriguing and emotive
images that resonate with symbolic meaning, using historic Hahoe masks in
modern stage scenes from her own imagination.
Based on the unique construction of the masks and the skillful acting of the
performers, each mask reflects attributes of differing emotions. Understanding
the complexity of human emotions, she captures the continuity of both positive
and negative personality traits and the realities of the human condition.
The power and energy of these photographs balance on the duality between
reality and illusion; this concept has been critical to photographic discourse
since its beginnings. As viewers, we willingly suspend our disbelief in order to
accept what the artist is attempting to communicate.
The concept of archetypes and the collective unconscious of Swiss psychoanalyst
Carl Jung are relevant to the artist¡¯s ¡°Mask, Unmask¡±¡± series. The ¡°shadow is
an important Jungian archetype, described as both the whole unconscious and
the unlived part of the personality. Made up of both personal and collective
elements, shadows are a compelling symbol for the unconscious in that they
appear to have substance, yet they remain elusive and illusive.
When the public and shadow elements of the self are combined, an individual
becomes a total, fully actualized person. Creating these photographs represents
part the artist¡¯s personal journey toward self-realization. Out of the creative
struggle between idea and image, Monica Cheon has developed a distinctive
and lyrical voice. The work signifies the archetypal and speaks about universal
feelings and experiences. Because the masks are archetypes -- universal symbols
that are not bound by a specific culture, time or space -- she creates highly
charged images that allow us to respond with deep emotional recognition.
Carl Jung wrote of the obligation of each generation ¡°to dream the myth forward¡±
by filling the archetypal structure with content relevant to our lives. This artist
¡°dreams the myth forward¡± by giving modern form to the historic Hanhoe masks
and reflecting our contemporary times.
Caslin Gregory & Associates
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.