Simple at first glance, but with intricate details revealing themselves as you look closer, this mask represented and complimented the model’s warm, generous and vibrant.
What started out as a small collaborative project between celebrity photographer Rachell Smith and make-up artist Khandiz Joni soon turned into a full-scale artistic investigation into the human mind, expression and awareness of the self and human consciousness. The Masks We Face combines amazing portrait photography with elaborate and artistic make-up to examine the deepest levels of our personalities.

The sitter’s spirit was reminiscent of Frida Kahlo. She was wild and courageous and out of the ordinary.
The project started when Smith wanted to explore the person behind the portrait and Joni had become frustrated with make-up art not being taken seriously as an artistic application. Their mutual love of portraiture and make-up spiralled from a small endeavour into one where they would exhibit 24 portraits in October 2013 on the Shoreditch Art Wall on Great Eastern Street. It was exhibited 24 hours a day for seven days and was the first ever photographic exhibition on the wall. This is quite an achievement for a pair who started this as a small personal project.

The pixelating of the face masks and obscures the sitter’s features, which was representative of her secretive personality.
Trying to avoid the surface layer personalities, the pair wanted to dig a little deeper and draw out the individual’s less dominant traits; the ones they had tried to mask or ignored in their questionnaires. They said, “What was interesting is that the majority of the people answered with positive and affirming answers yet the language they used in their paragraph answers told a more accurate story. Ultimately it made the project more interesting because it highlighted and reminded us that we as human’s do in fact aspire to be happy and positive and we will always try and to project our best faces.”

The sitter had a quiet resilience but an enigmatic boldness. The design of the mask is simple, with intricate detail.
Interestingly, the masking of the face made the person open up more to the camera – no duck pouts or peace signs. They didn’t have to try and fake a personality or attempt to project themselves in a certain way and adopted more honest poses. Does this reveal something about the human psyche?

With the design based on ink illustrations creating a modern element which reflected the model’s vivacious personality, the mask reminds the viewer of youth, vitality and life.
Khandiz and Rachell are still being asked to develop new masks, but keep a look out for their new exhibition project.

Words by Annie Lunnon


Annie Lunnon, Consciousness, Expression, Human Mind, Khadiz Joni, Make Up, Photography, Rachell Smith, Shoreditch Art Wall, The Masks We Face,