It is humanity that is most fascinated by itself. Our self-reflection, which we strive to understand, penetrate, and love, will never leave us alone. That is why people instinctively recreate their self-image.

The 15th edition of the festival OFF Bratislava, entitled PERSONA INCOGNITA, delves into the complexity of veiled identities and hidden characters. It explores themes of cognition and self-discovery. Since ancient times, humans have wanted to hold a mirror to the images of their own self – egos, in order to hide their own identity. The mask, a phenomenon that crosses all cultures and the entire history of the human species, constantly accompanies us regardless of time or geographical limitations. The mask is created by a human-artist not only out of a desire to return to the original roots and myths, but also as a way of coming to terms with oneself. A mask is a kind of sophisticated form of penetrating the secrets of one's own existence and reshaping its foundations and laws.

The mask motif is a universally understandable and recognizable symbol, as well as an object of primary cultural importance. Whether it has a ritual, ceremonial, theatrical, protective, or decorative use, it is more than clear that it must necessarily be reflected in artistic creation. The spectrum of approaches to the desire for self-transformation begins with a game of disguise and feigning and ends with a complete change of behaviour and identity in terms of the physical and psychological. Masking, covering, and pretending go with us, literally, throughout the whole life. Our face and indeed our entire identity, can be hidden behind an impermeable curtain, in a moment. What matters is our acceptance of the meaning of what the mask represents. The familiar becomes mysterious, and the veiled elements become the building block of a new creation.

Originally, humans used the mask to make peace with nature, with mysterious and terrifying phenomena of the unknown, to fight with demons and mystical forces. Individuals born in the age of scientific progress also put on a mask to face nature, to demystify the world of mystery and enigma, and to uncover hitherto unknown. Their mask still has a certain mystical power, they still feel a certain unity with it, which helps them dispel fear and gain confidence. The ghosts our ancestors fought were imaginary figments of their minds. Modern humans encounter ghosts that are the materialization of their creativity and imagination in the form of contemporary technologies.

The founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, referred to the human mask Persona. He perceived it as a habit or system of behaviour that we have created as an aid to balance and adapt to the real world. Persona serves as an invisible bridge connecting the hidden aspects of the human self with the daily reality. This year's festival OFF Bratislava aims to understand the hidden facts and masked aspects of an individual's or group's personality. It seeks to find common ground in understanding and discovering new ways of accepting and coming to terms with our own view of ourselves and the world around us. Remember, THE PERSON UNKNOWN is you!

Text: Dušan Kochol, Kamila Musilová

Festival z verejných zdrojov podporil Fond na podporu umenia.

Nad podujatím prebral záštitu primátor hlavného mesta SR Bratislava.