The Parkinson’s mask.
The stone face. Robbed of emotion. A blank stare. This is what we call “the Parkinson’s mask”. It is one of the maddening characteristics of Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve written about this before (see Keep your Requip, give me Photoshop! for example) but not too long ago I came across the work of an artist that I found profoundly captured the essence of this condition. Chris Crossley is a portrait and art photographer based in Victoria, Australia. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997.
In an exhibit entitled “Concrete” (showing presently at Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Australia), Crossley uses an interesting technique where subjects, none of whom have Parkinson’s, were asked to dunk their faces in water and, as they rose, have them try to express a mood or emotion. In part, the aim was to, in Crossley’s words, “give the ‘normal’ person being photographed a small feeling of what the loss of control was like, even for a couple of seconds, and for me to capture it”.
Crossley has, in my mind, done a superb job of capturing this. I find the images to be haunting and eerily familiar. I could certainly write more about living with this mask (and probably will 🙂 ) but I don’t think I could possibly capture it the way Crossley has. I’ve included a few more images below. If you’d like to see more, visit his Facebook page here.