For over thirty years Chris Rainier has been in search of the meaning of the Mask. What began as a thorough visual documentation of the traditional mask rituals of New Guinea then developed into a voyage of discovery that took him around the globe. From the steppes of Mongolia to the jungles of the Amazon, to the forests of West Africa, to the Continent of India and the high mountains of Tibet and Bhutan, from the Day of the Dead Festivals in Mexico to numerous First Nation tribes of North America, and from Bali to Sri Lanka, Rainier has documented rituals of the tradition of the Mask, both on still film and video.
Rainier has carefully researched and recorded masks, often waiting years before being granted access to prized mask collections. While masks devoid of their context have been hung in the great museums of the world, Rainier’s mission has been to breathe life back into the masks and reveal where the great masks of the world still dance and have deep spiritual meaning. All of the masks were photographed where they are danced, worshiped, and profoundly understood.
The exhibition is made of up fifty large photographs, a fifteen minute looped video of global Mask Dance rituals with the accompanying drum music, an introductory essay by Pico Iyer, the renowned travel writer, and rich ethnographic captions by noted anthropologist Robert Welsch, PhD., exploring the meaning of the mask and its context within the community's spiritual belief system.
Since the dawn of human civilization mankind has been in search of the sacred and a profound connection to the spiritual world. And for countless cultures around the planet the dancing of the mask allows the performer to create a powerful relationship to a meaningful sense of the sacred.
“Chris Rainier gives us the occult story of what life is all about. He takes us back to the inner faces that we all wear when something higher--or at least less visible--works through us. And he reminds us that masks can carry a universal power that transforms. And that the things we don’t know how to apprehend pack a far greater punch than the things we do. And masks are often the symbols—the carriers--of those hidden powers, which we can neither turn away from nor control.” —Pico Iyer
“These photographs, distilled from a lifetime of work, reveal the precision of Chris Rainier’s vision, the breadth of his imagination, the reach of his spirit as expansive and all embracing as the many worlds through which he has travelled.”
|50 Large Photographic Prints, 15 min. looped video, 2 wall panels, extended capions, (Optional) Masks and regalia from museum / private collections
|2019 through 2024
|+/- 215 Linear Ft (no spacing included)
|Responsibliity of Venue / 3 Crates, Estimated 1800 lbs
|American University Art Museum
|January 23 to May 23, 2021
|The Bowers Museum
|Santa Ana, CA
|October 16, 2021 to January 30, 2022