Not Far from Home
By Carlo Pirrongelli
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
– Oscar Wilde
Humans wear masks. All human societies have crafted and worn them. It’s one of the few things that separate us from other animals. Masks are part of our essential humanity, both for good and ill. They often come in opposing pairs. Tragedy and comedy, life and death, good and evil. Masks can hide, and at the same time reveal, who we really are. They can threaten, and they can also protect.
In Jungian psychology, masks are revelatory. What we try to hide reveals who we really are. According to Jung, we all wear metaphorical masks, or persona, in order to assume an identity that represents how we think we should act in social situations – to be happy, sad, outraged, or gracious when appropriate, whether we feel that way or not. The metaphorical masks we wear provide important insights to understand what really motivates us, or messes us up.
We’ve seen these ancient tropes play out in recent days. Masks protect most people, but they threaten some. They both hide and expose our deepest fears and insecurities.
Carlo Pirrogelli’s “Not Far from Home” touches these primeval parts of our collective unconscious. His photography inspires us to question these symbols and what they mean to both those who wear the masks, and those who observer them. Carlo presents us with an abstract vision that illuminates and explores how we interact with the world. Like all quality art, his work uses the history of a phenomenon as a foundation upon which to build something new. He takes established knowledge and provides fresh insight into how we see ourselves in current society.
Jung believed that human beings also possess a shadow, which is more or less the opposite of our mask. The shadow is a part of ourself that we refuse to recognize, much less deny. It represents the things that keep us from becoming what we believe to be our ideal self. So our persona is the mask we show the world. Our shadow is what others see but we don’t.
Every day we learn of new lengths that government, tech companies, businesses, universities, and advertisers go to collect data that defines who we are, what we do, where we go, and what we think. Our traditional masks don’t hide much anymore, at least not online. Every click we make, every word we type, every image we post, every tidbit we “like” is a reveal for any number of watchers, and it all goes down in our permanent record, which is for sale, and probably on the dark web to the world wide web. Everything we do there becomes our shadow.
In that sense, “Not Far from Home” can be read as a dark and twisted take on the family album, as family photos in the age of digital dystopia. Carlo’s subjects project as Jungian personas and shadows against the dark background of our damaged psyches. His images communicate how fear and wariness have creeped into our regular life. Something as wholesome and innocent as sharing pictures of our loved ones with friends has become an existential risk.
Of course we wear masks. We’d be crazy not to.
A commercial Photographer and Videographer based in Miami, Florida who likes to think of himself as a southerner. Born in South America (Venezuela) but now calls South Florida (Miami) his home. He clicks and clicks the shutter and sometimes something decent comes out. He has a camera that professionals like to use but most of the time he ends up shooting with his iphone instead.
When not shooting commercially he spends most of his time photographing personal projects dealing with themes of anonimity, longing and interconnectedness.
Photo Essay edited by Alejandra Martínez