Behind – Masks by Emanuel Sali Koko / 18 October – 5 November 2017


Masks have been used several millennia ago, from primitive people, who were very keen to show a kind of unimpeachable authority through wearing them.

In ancient Rome, the word persona meant ‘a mask’. Staying behind the mask one could believe to be protected by hiding out. In other circumstances they were simply used for performance or entertainment. So, the masks have been traveling with men throughout of the history of mankind.  

Since the very beginning of the civilization, parades and ceremonies, theater, comedy and tragedy developed. Along with them masks were invented. Later they culminated with carving out the expression of human emotions and feelings like anger, happiness, laughter, etc.

The masks created by the Albanian emerging artist Emanuel KOKO, displayed in this exhibition seem to be mainly inspired by the anonymous Baroque poet of the twentieth century XVII, who in his bravery and revolt said: “We are not humans, we are masks, living masks that talk to each other, enter into communication and friendship with each other”. In other words, he talked about the great desire of people to hide behind the mask. The masks of KOKO are made in various shapes and media like ceramic, terracotta, metal, stone, wood, etc.

Now the world we live in has got great scientific achievements, high technology, the highest forms of organization of social life. We have got laws and countless institutions. Nevertheless, masks are still present in our modern lives because still today, masking, hypocrisy, concealment of true feelings and thoughts is part of personal efforts to be accepted by, and successful in, the society.

Increasing means of communication in social networks has enabled the multiplication of masking. When our eyes or sophisticated tablets catch the beauty, the ugliness, or the evil in the face or in someone else’s life, we do not intervene to improve it, but simply multiply it, we photograph and share it.

However, the masks, the recorded moments of joy, amusement, beauty, sadness, melancholy, and all other senses that you can find as materialized in this exhibition, will not deceive you. There are masks of common people, of different sexes and ages, from different time zones.

You will get the impression that masks, are actually looking at us as if we are being displayed. They will look at our quasi-mask-faces. Finally, the masks are ringing the alarm bell, appealing for more honesty and high integrity by humans.