Rain, age 15
Digital print and paper-mâché

Nothing about this is genuine. A thrifted dress modified to look like another. A paper-mâché mask painted to resemble a different visage. A wig cut to shape.

Manet’s barmaid was painted with an emotionless expression that frustrated critics of his time. I chose to represent this perceived indifference in the form of a physical mask. When I look at the painting, I see a way of interpreting Suzon’s features not as indifferent, but a carefully arranged ‘mask’ she wears so as not to attract attention. Perhaps Suzon is not indifferent to the man in the reflection but on her guard against him. Such a ‘mask’ has long been worn by women in the service industry where friendliness can too often be mistaken for invitation. Her mask may be a measure of protection and also a resistance against her audience and painter.

Eyes are often said to be the windows to the soul, and I have decided to block them off as Suzon conceals her personality. Manet’s barmaid point blank refuses to give over that last part of herself to an audience. As she gazes directly at us, she laughs inwardly and seems to pity our struggle, knowing that she will hold this small piece of power over the voyeurs for centuries more.