Browse all

The meaning behind Kanye West masks

"Mask on my face, you can't see what I'm finna do"

The meaning behind Kanye West masks Mask on my face, you can't see what I'm finna do

Throughout his career Kanye West has often used the accessory as a medium to enrich his artistic and personal performance, chronicling phases of his career and emotionality by hiding his face in what has often seemed like a search for the normalcy in the life of a global superstar. Not just the Margiela Mask from the Yeezus Tour in 2014, from the launch of Donda to the months that followed West never stopped covering his face, creating in some cases what seemed like a piece of performance art orchestrated four-handedly by Kanye along with Demna Gvasalia, which saw its evolution first in the events that anticipated the release of the album and then in other public events, from the Met Gala to the last Balenciaga fashion show, in which pop culture has known its peak in the cancellation of celebrity, making us ask simply "why? ".

The answer, of course, only Kanye West can know (maybe... ), but what we can do is try to understand the reason behind a choice as absurd as simple, certainly in line with the character and the eccentricity that has always been part of his career. Let's start from June, before the release of Donda and the beginning of the listening parties, when West begins to cover his face with the first face mask created by Pierre-Louis Auvray, who, using vintage sweaters, creates hoods in which a series of holes allow Kanye to interact with the external environment. The thing passes as yet another folly of a madman, corroborated by the choice of other artists such as Travis Scott to imitate when done by Kanye. After the Balenciaga haute couture show and other public appearances, the mask evolves on the occasion of Donda's first listening party: no longer a hood, but a balaclava that also enters the record's merch in a variant created for the occasion by Demna Gvasalia.

If anyone hoped that West's obsession with masks would end with the release of his tenth album, they were sadly mistaken. Just a few days ago, Kanye was spotted at the Venice airport wearing a rubber mask that completely covered his face, partly recalling the character from Fantômas, while the night before a mask vaguely inspired by The Phantom of the Opera was seen at Alexandre Arnault's private wedding party, also in the Venetian city. The change from "simple" face masks to real carnival masks has brought the question "why?" back to the forefront, however, giving us the chance to find a real answer to the question that has been following West in his travels for months.

The name change, now made official, from Kanye West to Ye could have a specific weight in the story, linking to an old tweet in which the rapper wondered: "Who or what is Kanye West with no ego? Just Ye." The cancellation of the personality seems to be the central point in an operation whose ultimate goal could be to reset his ego and his fame becoming almost a character without connotations. An operation that clashes, however, with the weight of the notoriety of Kanye, followed 24/7 by fans and paparazzi and therefore with a life continuously controlled, a golden cage from which it is impossible to escape if not with a magic trick. If in Off the Grid Kanye says "Mask on my face, you can't see what I'm finna do", the appearance of doppelgangers around the world, people with a total black look accompanied by fake bodyguards as in the case of Warsaw, could give us the final answer to the question "what do masks mean for Kanye West? A way to hide, to escape from one's ego, but above all a collective illusion with which to make fun of ourselves once again.