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Nathalie Bertin

Pandemic Vogue

Artist Statement

Pandemic Vogue (2020), Nathalie Bertin

For my second mask, I explored the concept of vanity which ultimately led me to reflect on privilege. This custom made mask is based on the tattoo designs on my arm. This mask is all about me, to protect me and others from me. The designs on my tattoos are based on traditional beadwork designs. In a sense, the designs have come full circle – from beadwork on a traditional garment, to my tattoos and back to beadwork on a contemporary article for me to wear.

As I worked on the mask, I had heard or read someone asking what it would take to normalize wearing masks so that everyone would finally wear one. I also found it interesting that couturier Yves St Laurent was making masks for the front lines. I wondered if they put their logo on the masks. I also wondered when we might see Dolce & Gabana or Channel ads for masks or models wearing some masks on runways. I chose to create a mock ad for my mask as a way to try to answer the question of how these masks could become normalized.

However the bigger question is whether it could ever be a normal thing to wear a mask on a day-to-day basis. And normalized for whom? There is often-violent history against women who chose to wear a Niqab, even here in friendly Canada. Many non-Muslim people of colour who might want to wear a mask may not do so for fear that they may be mistaken for a criminal. Therefore, is it really possible for us to normalize the wearing of masks or is it only for a certain group of people?

Nathalie Bertin Pandemic Vogue
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