Watch 'The mask is looking at us' performance by Sharon Pérez

19th May 2022

On Tuesday, May 17th, Afro-Bolivian artist Sharon Pérez performed 'The mask is looking at us' in the Great Court at the British Museum. Watch here an extract and her explanation about the artistic exercise.


Sharon Pérez about ‘The mask is looking at us’ performance

“This artistic exercise or ‘performance’ focuses on what it means to touch another body, use it as a canvas and to understand it from otherness. In this case it was very important the interaction with a European body on which iconographies of a Bolivian mask were sketched.

What is a mask?

This project has focused on the morenada masks from Bolivia and their relationship to Afro-Bolivian culture and identity. During these two months, a lot of ideas, exercises, analyses, and sketches have emerged about what it really means to wear a mask. This is one of the exercises that is part of the works developed during the residency. For this reason the model was wearing a morenada mask and I was also initially wearing a morenada mask. Then, once I removed the mask my face painted. Finally, I wore a mask of my own face.

Constantly playing with those filters, those veilings.

The drawings made on the model’s back are sketches of how I saw the mask worn by him that were reflected in the mirror. I focused on a particular part of the mask in each sketch. I also wrote on the mirror some phrases from the interviews I did in the past months with members from the Yungas communities along with some notes I took during those visits.

I think this is what is interesting about this experiment, taking bodies to other spaces and reflecting on the meaning of the body wearing the mask. To play with the idea of being ‘other’, of representing the ‘other.’”


STAY UPDATED >> For more about this and other projects follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)