Valérie Berta

Photographer
    
Behind the Mask
Location: Columbia, MO, U.S.
Nationality: American, French
Biography: Valérie Berta is an international photographer based in the United States. She was born and raised on the Riviera, in the South of France, studied English in Paris and journalism at the University of Missouri­Columbia and worked as a... read on
Public Story
Behind the Mask
Credits: valérie berta
Updated: 04/05/16
Location: United States
Archived as: 
Behind the mask is a portrait series exploring concepts of social identity and visual perception and the relation between the two.


Behind the Mask is the first part of an ongoing portrait project consisting of portraits of circus performers in and out of wardrobe. The photographs in this series were taken within a three weeks period at the end of 2012 at the Kelly Miller Circus, where these performers worked and lived, and where I lived and documented our lives in The Mudshow Diaries. The aim was to show performers as the public sees them, and as they are in daily life, surrounded by their families.

My aim in this portrait series is to explore issues of identity and visual perception and how they relate, and to foster a conversation around the Other: to show our common humanity, beyond the clichés, the preconceptions, and the fears.

The portraits are designed to be dyptich images that are mirrors of each other. For that purpose, the portraits were taken in the same location and as close to the same time as possible, and the subjects were posed in the same positions. 

I am interested in exploring concepts of identity and perception both public and private: visual identity as a personal but also social, ethnic and ultimately ethical creation. I would like to foster a reflection on the notion of identity and public perception as it relates to issues of exclusion and fear of the Other, be that immigrants or groups outside of the mainstream population. I feel this is especially important now, when the 2016 presidential campaigning is exacerbating political manipulation of underlying fears and misconceptions of people different.

Circus performers are a closed group and they are glaringly representing their occupation in their appearance. They are a subgroup of society that is instantly readable in the image they project; as such they are judged based on often subconscious images associated with the circus and its representations in the collective memory. 

It is these collective representations and the images they carry that interests me in a moment in time when outsiders are increasingly stygmatized in the public debate. It is why I want to work on expanding the series into other groups, such as immigrants and refugees. 

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By Valérie Berta —

VISUAL STORY

Melissa Horner

By Valérie Berta — Melissa Horner, 33, Métis and Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe (tribal affiliations,) creative, ancestor,..
VISUAL STORY

Black Lives Matter protests in Columbia, Missouri

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, MO USA
VISUAL STORY

Radhia Khenissi

By Valérie Berta — Radhia Khenissi, 26, banker, from Columbia, MO, originally from Tunisia. And know that victory comes with..
VISUAL STORY

Marekka Nickens

By Valérie Berta — Marekka Nickens, 29, elementary school teacher, born and raised in Columbia, MO. 01/19/18 Mother, wife,..
VISUAL STORY

L. Lou Davis

By Valérie Berta — L. Lou Davis, 43, artist, small business owner, Columbia, MO (originally from Labelle, MO.) I am L. I..
VISUAL STORY

Nikki McGruder

By Valérie Berta — Nikki McGruder, regional manager for Diversity Awareness Partnership and director of the Journey towards..
VISUAL STORY

Gretchen Maune

By Valérie Berta — Gretchen Maune, 35, activist, blind, Columbia, MO (originally from Blue Springs, MO.) I suddenly went blind..
VISUAL STORY

Natalia Prats

By Valérie Berta — Natalia Prats, 37, teacher, performer at heart, Columbia, MO, originally from Puerto Rico. Natalia Prats,..
VISUAL STORY

Caitlin Cunningham

By Valérie Berta — Caitlin Cunningham, 35, teacher, queer activist, pansexual and polyamorous, Columbia, MO. 6/25/19 A public..
VISUAL STORY

The Mudshow Diaries

By Valérie Berta / United States — It's about us. It's about a small circus traveling around the country gathering memories. It's called The..
VISUAL STORY

The Mudshow Diaries book edit

By Valérie Berta — The photographs in this project were edited by Scott Thode. The Mudshow Diaries: A Journey. It's about..
VISUAL STORY

Voices Workshop

By Valérie Berta — VOICES Photography Workshop       The Voices photo workshop is a hands-on workshop..
VISUAL STORY

Dog Portraits

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri — Portrait packages start at $500 for a two-hour session and a framed 8x10 and four 5x7 prints. Call today
VISUAL STORY

Real Estate

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri
VISUAL STORY

Shelter Animal Portraits

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri — If you are looking for that special animal in your life please look no further than your local shelter or..
VISUAL STORY

Leaving Chicago

By Valérie Berta / Chicago, Illinois
VISUAL STORY

Fun for Thought: School Photos

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri — Kids, just as they are. School pictures do not have to be boring. They can be pure fun, and joy. And..
VISUAL STORY

Studio animal portraits

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri
VISUAL STORY

It's all theater

By Valérie Berta / Columbia, Missouri
VISUAL STORY

Les Gens du Voyage II

By Valérie Berta / United States
VISUAL STORY

Les Gens du Voyage

By Valérie Berta / United States — Les Gens du Voyage is a reflection on places seen as we moved through the country, one day at a time, a..
VISUAL STORY

Behind the Mask

By Valérie Berta — Behind the Mask is the first part of an ongoing portrait project, consisting of portraits of..
VISUAL STORY

MSExtras

By Valérie Berta
VISUAL STORY

Untitled

By Valérie Berta
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