The Guy Fawkes mask has morphed from a eulogistic token of a 400-year-old ill-fated conspiracy to a symbol of revolutionary protest and concealed identities. Its recent re-emergence into the domain of popular culture has come through recent cinematic movies, such as ‘V for Vendetta’. Revisiting the icon, Katja Seib’s ‘Don’t Call Me Sir, Call Me Survivor’ offers an ambiguous centralisation of the mask, a focal point; one with pronounced intimacy where anonymity is wrought with affection. The overall flatness is characteristic of the artist’s practice where the forms of motifs and brands separate through lineation rather than an emphasised sense of depth. Michael Kors, Marlborough, the NBA… each co-exist with the same uniformity, perhaps a perceptive interpolation of the banality of the everyday where the mediatisation of life sublimates the potentiality of revolution within a conflux of logo imagery and branding.
Conversely, Seib blends pre-established notions of portraiture and narrative with a contemporary inflection that is distinctly outside the quotidian. Fabrics, wallpapers, and smoke pulsate with a dramatic flow that slips deftly between caricature and critique. Yet there is something unnerving about the scene presented in ‘Don’t Call Me Sir…’ that continues to pique the intrigue of the viewer: exterior or interior, friends or lovers, concealing or revealing? Are we met with neutral and introspective visual logic or should the titular request propagate a call to action? Ultimately Katja Seib’s contrast of wistfulness and inadvertent commentary encourages the viewer to draw their own – varied – conclusions, eliding the clarity of narrative message for an inspiratory opacity.