In his ongoing mask series, Dutch designer Bertjan Pot creates contemporary renditions of folkloric masks by stitching together thin strands of colored rope, giving the human face new textures that are at once otherworldly and familiar. The series began in 2010 when Pot, most notably known for designing “Random Light,” the globe-shaped pendant lamp of resin drained glass-fiber yarn, attempted to make a flat carpet out of knitted rope, but ended up with insistently curvier swatches. The designer decided to use the orbicular patterns as contours of the human face to create a mask, preserving the serendipitous nature found in all of his projects, which are self-proclaimed to be rooted in trial-and-error and his fixation with stretching the possibilities of materiality.
The veneers of Pot’s masks flip the traditional connotations — of invincibility, fearlessness, and intimidation — found in those donned in prehistoric times, for example, ceremonial guises that would uplift the bearer with godly powers, or protective headgears worn during times of war. Pot’s masks possess quite contrasting qualities: the bright color schemes, which range from polychromatic to pastel-hued, instill cheeriness to what would otherwise be a rather morbid distortion of the human face. Purposefully or not, grins and endearingly large ears are plentiful; and although the final piece is a still object, the ropes’ endless circuits create a sense of fluidity and dimension in the place of permanence.