Unmasking the Pandemic: Masks as a Visual Metaphor of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes, perhaps too many to articulate. One change is the increasing prevalence of wearing a face mask in public. The mask is often positioned by journalists, medical practitioners, politicians, and health authorities as the last defence against viral infection and transmission, in a long list of precautionary procedures and protocols. Although wearing a mask during illness is a widely accepted practice in some cultures, in western culture such tradition does not exist. The mask has become a visual signifier and a visual metaphor for the pandemic. A new normal has arrived.
But, on the other hand, has much changed?
Our panelists Dr. Zhenyi Li, Dr. Chaseten Remillard, Olaolu Adeleye and Michelle Tsutsumi explored and revealed a different set of paradoxes raised by the mask. Through personal vignettes, we discussed how otherness, contagion, and identity are illuminated, constructed, challenged, and maintained through the act of wearing or not wearing a mask.
Learn more about how masks remind us of the divide between culture and nature with this short video by Dr. Zhenyi Li.