More than beautification or even mere self-expression, the act of putting on makeup has come to symbolize as an individual’s process of preparation for meeting and encountering the outside world. Writer, Courtney Summers, describes makeup or cosmetics as a form of “armor”. Its application provides the face with a sense of mask, shield, or even security that often signifies orderliness and presentability, thus making a person appear “primed”, “ready”, and “acceptable” enough to engage with the public space—whether for the purpose of labor or other specialized, consumerist occasions.
However, in the event of a global lockdown, the prevalent use of face masks, and a world economy at a drastic decline brought upon by the pandemic, the cosmetics—which was once deemed as customary and essential in our daily routine to meet with the public space—has now been relegated as virtually useless and nonessential. What now becomes of cosmetics? Furthermore, what now becomes of the face, the body, or the person as a whole, as it slowly loses the routine to prepare one’s ornamental exterior meant for the external world which is now in crisis?
Focusing on the word “cosmetics” which derives from the Greek word, kosmos, meaning “order”, a performance exercise is envisioned as an attempt in putting things in order, in harmony, in the balance, in perspective, in universe and in beauty—especially at a time when we are grappling with the world’s existing disorder.
Kosmos is an ongoing, online, collaborative performance piece that interrogates and re-examines the meaning, purpose, and use of makeup—not only in relation to the present-day crisis, but also in respect to cosmetics’ role and place in history. Recognizing the gradual loss of cosmetics’ routined, industrial existence in our current daily living, Kosmos seeks to re-evaluate cosmetics’ varied past and evolution, ruminate on its original divine intent and function, and re-imagine a usage, preparation, and ritual that is geared towards a more inward journey rather than an outward one.
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