Masking as a Political Performance in Times of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Face masks have become a symbol of coronavirus pandemic. An element of everyday working equipment for healthcare workers has now become a new practice for many people in affected regions and can be analysed as a practice of costuming.
The starting point of this topic was the first photo of the new Slovenian government that came into power in the begging stages of the epidemic. In the photo all the new ministers in session behind a big table – wearing medical masks. The new masked government was faceless and reminded more on an image of a bad dystopian movie. This performance of power happened in times when the epidemic was in the first stages in Slovenia – while there was a lack of medical masks for healthcare workers the new government the politicians wore it as a performative element.
In the essay I further explain elements of political performance of the specific case, as well as how the concept of masking has changed in times of Covid-19 pandemic and how it relates to theory of costume. This new situation that has emerged has changed many of our views (and laws!) on public masking. In many countries masking in public has become obligatory so my interest is how this involuntary costume changed the concept of public masking.
Mateja Fajt focuses her work on the theory and practice of costume design. She graduated with a degree in cultural studies from the Faculty for Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana and got her MA in scenic design at Academy of Theatre, Film, Radio and Television, University of Ljubljana in 2019. As a costume designer, she has worked on several theatre and film productions, most recently on the internationally-awarded film Stories from the Chestnut Woods.