The works produced by Danielle Feldhaker in the past several months are on exhibit at the Boris Lurie Art and Dada Study Center. These works are a continuation of her virtual exhibition recently posted on the museum website. A giant mask made of layers of parchment paper is situated at the center of the space. On this mask, the artist printed a repetitive black-and-white squiggly pattern that resembles lace, embellished with a pair of eyes. This same pattern, which serves as a static background for the video work Eyes Wide Shut II, also appears on additional masks scattered among the bookshelves and drawn on objects of light as well.
The video simulates concealed faces in which pairs of eyes have been planted. When these eyes close and then open, their color changes. The small masks are also made of delicate parchment paper covered with drawings, embroidery, photographs and a dense collection of safety pins arranged as if sealing the area of the mouth and resembling the mask worn by Hannibal Lecter. Only the light fixtures decorated with a black felt-tip pen express optimism or hope.
This group of works is not merely a response to contemporary decrees demanding cover-up and concealment. The artist seeks to raise the issue of domestic violence, and particularly violence against women—women who are anonymous, transparent, silenced, those for whom society and official authorities shut their eyes, turn their backs and disregard their state. These women are faceless. The use of the black lace-like pattern refers to the increasing fragility of the encounter with the delicate material—parchment paper or glass.
At the same time, these works also have a global aspect. The fact that the artist chose to use the image of a mask in today’s times conveys the overwhelming sense of suffocation while wearing a mask, the loss of identity, the limited ability to interpret facial expressions and the social distancing that has been forced upon us alongside the paralyzing fear we have been immersed in for too long a time.