Purely and simply, I love the spontaneous drama of this shot. It has accidental classical connotations with the expression being derived from the choice of mask – tragic or comic – and in that sense, contains the essence of tragicocomedia. If I may say so myself, I think the vectors in this image are great. The eyes are so expressive in their diagonal focus, while the position of the hands, the direction of the forearms and the tilt of the shoulders, like a rolling boxer, lend the image a light, dancing quality in contrast with the darker mood of the mask.
The tender and self-absorbed manner in which the young girl is examining herself, has real pathos – both delicate and sad. The polar-necked woolen top was a fortunate choice in that it situates the mask so seamlessly, making these two elements a natural fit despite their obvious contextual differences. The juxtaposition of the masks on one side and humans on the other also frames the subject with the two worlds married in the middle. The bandaid on the subject’s forefinger is a cute reminder of the everyday divide from the decadent glamour of the Venetian Carnivale.
I was drunk when I took this photograph. Drifting around Venice in gorgeous sunshine, toting a two litre bottiglia of vino da tavola and smoking way too many cigarettes. It was the last day of an eight-day campaign across northern Italy and I really felt like cutting loose. I remember that day very vividly as one on which I spent a lot of time looking for public toilets and took some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken. Around two in the afternoon, I took a prime position at the peak of the Rialto and shot down the grand canal for the next couple of hours. This shot was taken just prior to that, on the approach to the Rialto Bridge.