Pandemic Vogue

Submitted by: Nathalie Bertin

Materials: Mask made of velvet, glass and hematite beads, ribbon

Pandemic Vogue (2020), Nathalie Bertin

In a mock ad meant to look like a page out of Vogue magazine, I explored the concept of vanity which ultimately led me to reflect on privilege. This custom made, designed and beaded mask is based on the tattoo designs on my arm. This mask is all about me, to protect me and others from me. The designs on my tattoos are based on traditional beadwork designs. In a sense, the designs have come full circle – from beadwork on a traditional garment, to my tattoos and back to beadwork on a contemporary article for me to wear.

As I worked on the mask, I had heard or read someone asking what it would take to normalize wearing masks so that everyone would finally wear one. I also found it interesting that couturier Yves St Laurent was making masks for the front lines. I wondered if they put their logo on the masks. I also wondered when we might see Dolce & Gabana or Channel ads for masks or models wearing some masks on runways. I chose to create a mock ad for my mask as a way to try to answer the question of how these masks could become normalized.

However the bigger question is whether it could ever be a normal thing to wear a mask on a day-to-day basis. And normalized for whom? There is often-violent history against women who chose to wear a Niqab, even here in friendly Canada. Many non-Muslim people of colour who might want to wear a mask may not do so for fear that they may be mistaken for a criminal. Therefore, is it really possible for us? Is our society ready to embrace the normalization of the wearing of masks or is it only for a certain group of people?

Photo: Fred Exelby
Tattoos: Corben Matsell-Savage, Reactive Ink
Bracelet: Jennifer Younger

This mask was created for the Breathe community Facebook group – A collection of traditionally crafted masks demonstrating resiliency through 21st century pandemic.

Please add your completed masks into this album. We welcome you to add a description of some of your thoughts around completing your mask during this challenging time.

Posted by Lisa Shepherd on Tuesday, April 7, 2020