MERMAIDS AND OTHER CREATURES
Coney Island is on the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its amusement park, wide sandy beach and its boardwalk. Its annual summer mermaid parade has a sea-based theme and marchers dress as mermaids, fish, lobsters, pirates, sailors, jellyfish, various other sea creatures, and in a variety of other costumes- sometimes unrelated to the original theme of the sea. These photographs were made before the start of this annual parade that proceeded through the streets and down the boardwalk of Coney Island, New York.
The parade is a celebration of the beginning of summer. It gives the participants an opportunity to design their own costumes and dress-up and show off their creations. Some marchers are masked as they assume another identity, and in many cases it offers an opportunity to display a side of ones self that is seldom seen. To me, it’s a window into how we see ourselves.
One of the women that I photographed for this series said, “I was a mermaid! Her name is Katrina, Queen of the Waves. It’s my inner mermaid persona.” We all have a persona, a mask that we wear, an image that we put on for society. It’s what we want others to believe we are. Like an actor in a play, we design our own roles in life: a businessman or women, a politician, a student, a teacher, an athlete, etc. But the image that we create is likely not the real person, although we and others may believe it is.
As Carl Jung said, “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.”
What we portray in daily life is likely not real and the masks and costumes we put on is an attempt to escape from one unreality to another- if only for a short time.