‘Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate’
‘Before me nothing was created
if not eternal, and I eternal last.
All hope abandon, ye who enter’
- Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto III
This mask, with its three-dimensional crucifix affixed between the eyes, makes a startling visual statement. In McQueen’s words, ‘People find my things sometimes aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality’. Here, the figure of Christ is placed in the region often associated with the third eye, which according to Hindu beliefs is a gateway to higher consciousness.
McQueen’s mask design comes directly from a work by photographic artist Joel-Peter Witkin, Portrait of Joel, New Mexico (1984), in which the sitter wears a similar design in black with a stark white crucifix attached.