Peter C. Turner
Born in Los Angeles, as the son of an architect and an artistic mom, I grew up around art. In school I would draw rather than write for my assignments. I loved to create in any medium I could find. I’ve always had an innate desire to see the essence of things and understand how they work. As a child, I was very sensitive to energy and impacted by other people’s emotions. I was always moved by nature and embarked on a spiritual path at a young age.
My work is an exploration of the dark and light, the internal and external, the spiritual and the material, and the multiple aspects of life. I experience life as a vast conglomeration of energies from the subatomic to the mega cosmic, all interconnected. The dance of male / female, yin and yang has engrossed me for many years.
In photography and video, I often work with models in masks, costumes and a natural environment. As facilitator of the process I find suggestion plays a big part—tuning in to the body, the feet on the earth, the connection to the earth, the connection to a tree or plant. I ask people to explore different aspects of themselves through movement, to express whatever feelings are coming up. In this way my work is very improvisational and empowering. I give complete permission and encouragement to explore what’s coming up for the individual in the moment, and what arises is most often totally unexpected and miraculous. On a psychological level, I believe that we’re all made up of multiple personalities, archetypes. There’s great power and healing possible in tuning in to this level of awareness. Masks sometimes help with this because they carry certain specific energies—they were each carved to represent a god/goddess, animal spirit or entity for sacred rituals.
My models are often attracted to a particular mask, and this is usually related to something they need to explore—it’s talking to them on a deep level. The mask is functioning as a mirror for a hidden part of themselves.
I found my first mask at a shop in Greenwich Village, which had a depiction of clouds on a face with blue sky. My girlfriend at the time, a modern dance choreographer, bought it for my birthday. I started taking pictures of her wearing it, moving in it, and eventually other people wearing it. I’ve been working with masks in this way for over 30 years. I love the mystery of life and creation. The mystery in a mask conveys something from a non-ordinary reality. It’s the divine as opposed to the mundane, and the awareness that we’re multiplistic beings.