It’s 2020 - a fresh new decade and just like a pristine blank piece of paper, an empty canvas, a fresh roll of film – there’s so much promise and anticipation in the air. How often do we find ourselves on the cusp of a new decade? It is a time to globally and locally consolidate all of the wisdom garnered over the previous decades and armed with those lessons, step boldly and beautifully into this new decade.
The late 1920s gave us the beginning of the surrealism movement - the art of the uncanny. The surrealists put their dreams, and the workings of their subconscious mind on a pedestal and the results were sublime and fascinating. As with most movements bestowed with an ‘–ism’ its influence is still felt strongly even in new works created today. For instance, there’s something fantastically surreal about the work of Hilde van Mas. In this series of images, we see Hilde exploring the extremes and ‘non-comfort-zones’, both of which are important stimuli for her work. She has managed to successfully merge her subconscious world with the commercial fashion world, which is no small feat at all.
Hilde van Mas
© Hilde van Mas
Fast forward a hundred years, and it appears the art world wants to make up for the mistakes of the past by shining a light and celebrating works from female surrealist artists, the majority of whom where underappreciated and pushed to the sidelines in favour of their male counterparts in the 1920s.
On the subject of feminism, Hilde highlights the fact that in her female and artistic microcosm, which defines her personal life as a woman, she has consciously created an environment - a very positive and respectful biosphere - by surrounding herself with good energies and synergies. This is something that has taken her many years to achieve – it’s an essential and conscious development that has come at a price, so it is not something she takes for granted. Hopefully, this decade will see substantial progress towards true equality for all.
Hilde’s creative process is also somewhat reminiscent of the OG surrealists; she often wakes up in the night with a precise, cinematic mood for a shoot. Before the photoshoots, Hilde transports herself mentally on to the set in order to pre-feel the light and atmosphere. ‘If you see with innocent eyes, everything is divine’ is one of her favourite quotes from Federico Fellini, his words speak directly to the photographer’s heart. She puts herself into the film in her mind’s eye, and from this Hilde creates mood boards with sketches and music for each image.
Having started her professional career in ballet, Hilde’s passion for aesthetics and fashion led her to magazines and photography; she has previously worked with L'Officiel, Overdue magazine, FLAUNT magazine, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, Social Media and KUNST magazine to name a few. She may have left the stage, but her love for movement, dance and performance is evident in her images.
On set Hilde loses any sense of time and space, she submits entirely to the creative moment. Everything is focused on the feeling of that second. The only thing that is left is the energy and feeling between the mode/muse and the photographer.
Being a performer not only helps her to connect to the models on a deeper level, which in turn creates intimate and evocative imagery. Hilde finds herself falling in love with who and what is in front of her eyes, she sees it as the only pure way to capture a fragment of its soul - the only way to catch a glimpse of intimacy. Finding multiplicity and balancing them is a fundamental desire, as is leaving a question mark in a picture, a subtle hint of uncertainty.