“Who hasn’t had the desire just to be someone else for a while? Dressing up is a way of creating an alter ego, a second skin which one’s behaviour can be adjusted to and causes a person to be perceived differently.”

“Just the two of us” by Klaus Pichler deals with both costumes and the people behind them…

The tradition of dressing up and wearing costumes has been part of many
traditional special celebrations in society for centuries. They are usually part of a
spectacle, a display or a communal activity which often turns everyday routines
upside down and gives permission to behave in a way which is not acceptable in
“real life”. In recent years, in addition to the traditional practices of wearing costumes,
several new individual trends have become established where dressing up is either
the main element or a vital part of it. In this series of photographs, a range of
different traditions are portrayed in order to highlight the huge variety amongst the
wide range of costumes which is currently available…

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Regardless of the motivating factors which cause somebody to acquire a costume,
whether it is part of a cultural heritage, fandom, a prop for a game or a complete
reinvention of one’s own identity, the main principle remains the same: the civilian
steps behind the mask and turns into somebody else. This increasing desire for
transformation, the creation of a kind of parallel reality and identity, can without a
doubt be related to increasingly difficult circumstances in society. Therefore,
dressing up and related activities can, in this context, be regarded as a temporary
withdrawal from civil life. The selection of a certain mask is never a coincidence-
the preference of a certain costume is always based on a conscious decision- which
may be a passion for the thematic background of a costume or the identification
with character traits of the individual figure. The sheer amount of time which is
invested in the creation of handmade costumes is evidence of the fact that the
decision to dress as a certain character is usually well thought through.

 

Therefore, each costume indirectly conveys information about the person behind it.
For the photo series “Just the two of us” Pichler visited owners of elaborate costumes in
their own homes. The choice of location is not a coincidence: Nowhere else is the
(abstract) link between the person behind the mask and his or her alter ego as visible
as in their own home. Nowhere else would it have been possible to portray the mask
and, figuratively speaking, the person behind it on the same picture. The costume-
usually full body costumes, which completely conceal the “private” person-
represents the alter ego whilst the surrounding living space, so to speak, the
“backdrop” or stage design cautiously impart information about the person behind
the costume. The circumstances in which the costumes are usually worn are
purposely reversed to the exact opposite: In most cases, dressing up is inevitably
linked to social activity. On the photos of this series, however, the costume owners
stay “at home”. In order to further emphasize this reversal, the people on the photos
are (opposed to the original purpose of the costume) pictured quietly pursuing everyday activities…

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

The purpose of this setting is to create questions: Why did the person choose this
particular costume? Does the decoration style of the home give any kind of clues? Who on earth is behind the mask?
And, most importantly, the question at the centre of it all: Aren’t we all behind a mask already…?

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013