Carved Pule Wood, Acrylic paint, Varnish, goat fur, horse hair, wax
Located in the heart of a Balinese graveyard the Pule tree (Alstonia Scholaris) grows. As the pregnant tree swells, the spirit within her stirs, it calls out to the heart of a mask master. Chopped down, by axe the first form of the mask takes shape. the Spirit of the tree and the carver enter a dialogue and together they birth the mask. Shy, the spirit of the mask stays hidden within the wood: the painted surface serves as protection. Through ritual and performance the sacred spirit of the forest reveals itself; through movement the performer embodies an ancient knowledge.
The work belongs to a series of masks. Informing the series, Emma worked daily, side-by-side Balinese Mask Master: I Made Se Dirga. Working with the Master, Emma learned about the animistic quality of the wood as well as traditional mask carving techniques.
Produced from an ethnographic setting as well a studio in London the work straddles the boundary between art and artefact: the work references traditional Balinese masks that are used in ritual whist it is used as a medium to explore themes of animism, mythology and ritual, structure and anti-structure, participation and identity in contemporary environments. The masks production and shifting classification raises questions about the status of objects and their perception and representations in varying contexts.