Bianca Mann’s first solo exhibition at Mobius continues the artist’s research into the layers that shape the individual’s identity. It follows the thread from her previous series of works, titled Persona and Amorphos, which marked the beginning of Mann’s artistic career.
The blind spot is a hole, an obscuration of our visual field that corresponds to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells on the optic disc of the retina where the optic nerve passes through the optic disc. Because there are no cells to detect light on the optic disc, the corresponding part of the field of vision is invisible. Some process in our brains interpolates the blind spot based on surrounding detail and information from the other eye, so we do not normally perceive the blind spot.
Mann begins her journey with a mask – a self-cast of the artist’s face in resin or in bronze, with eyes placidly shut towards the world and multiplied infinitely, like closed doors separating external reality from the internal. The unsettling result evokes a complex reaction, as the multitude of identities inhabiting Mann’s sculptures penetrate the inner self of the viewer. The final destination of this journey is one’s true identity. Torn apart by the array of roles imposed by society, by the domestic environment, or simply by inner tensions, the identity of man becomes a scene where different characters perform different acts while wearing the same mask.
“If one begins to understand the human being as a theatrical spectacle, then one begins to realize that one mask leads to another mask, not to a genuine and unchanging essence of the self. Each one is many.” (Philosophy, Art, and the Specters of Jacques Derrida, by Gray Kochhar-Lindgren)
Mann’s work is an invitation to peruse the multitude of possibilities in understanding the human being as a “play in progress”. Each sculpture seems to comprise an ample collection of the same entity’s projections. If all that we see of an individual is a multitude of masks, what stays with us are the details that distinguish them from one another, something extraordinary. However, what makes us different is often perceived as abnormal. This kind of perception is the next major theme in Mann’s work – using stigma as landmarks in mapping an identity.
Each of the multitudes of faces tearing out of the body has its own voice, its own life, its own story, confronting us with a paradox. Fact is, we are born partially blind. We never see the whole picture and we always seem to fail in our attempt at discovering the core. As with the blind spots in our eyes, we are led to imagine the missing part.