Theo-Mass LEXILEICTOUS says fashion, money, and media are the superpowers of our time. To gain these powers he became a superhero. Through this concept the disguised artist found his way on fashion magazine covers like Dazed and Confused. Theo-Mass is taking part in the exhibition “Faceless part II.”
You’re a superhero.
Yes, that’s what I am. I’m not a superhero like Superman or Batman out of a Hollywood film. I grew up in Cyprus, a small island without any art or fashion scene. It was incredibly difficult to do the things I wanted to do. So to make my dreams come true and succeed I became a superhero.
Do you have a mission?
My work was separated into episodes. I had different missions in each episode. The first one was titled “My power is beyond your understanding” and was all about me travelling around the world showing who I was, showing that I existed as a superhero. The episode was themed around the superpowers of our time: money, fashion, and media. My costumes and masks come from the fashion world. Fashion is a medium that I use to translate and communicate different aspects of the story every time. I printed my own currency, the Theo-Mass dollar, and I started doing collaborations with fashion and art magazines.
Your aim is to go out on the streets?
It was part of the first four episodes, yes. I wanted to test my boundaries as a person, also in public space. Wearing a mask changes my personality. When I’m not wearing a mask I’m Alexis. When I’m wearing my masks I transform into Theo-Mass. I’m a completely different person. It’s like gaining power to make things. I mean nobody knows who you are...
Which is the aspect that clearly connects you to Batman and Superman anyway.
Everything about the structure of my work is based on a conventional, classic superhero story. Everything I do. But it’s not my aim to become the next Marvel movie star. I’m interested in the creative art expression, the performing act. So the purpose of the whole thing was to go somewhere unannounced, wearing my costumes and painted black, flooding the streets with the Theo-Mass dollar$. People were experiencing these performances as spectacles.
At the moment I’m dealing with social networks, 3D technologies, galleries, and museums. The next episode, “#themutantreturns,” will be presented in spring 2014, most probably in Los Angeles. It’s the first one that is completely different from what I was doing until now, because people will be able to see the transformation of Theo-Mass into three different figures. I will build new Theo-Mass characters and each one will have a different personality, history, and look.
That sounds a bit dangerous. You’re tricking your mind. Don’t you fear you’re losing it?
At the beginning it was quite strange. When I was doing the creative attacks some of the magazines were really scared. So I had some kind of weird interactions with some organizations. I did many extreme and extraordinary things during my appearances, but it was part of the story.
What kind of extreme things?
When I went to iD magazine and sent them my creative attacks they were so panicky that they alarmed security until they realized I’m not a serial killer but an artist. I was throwing the dollars with my face printed on them and I got in trouble with the police in the States. I was doing all that to test my boundaries. What can I do by wearing a mask? About 95% of the people I work with don’t know what I look like – I’m always "faceless" in my way.
OK, you scared some people, but you don’t use your anonymity to do something forbidden?
I’m creating Theo-Mass, not someone anonymous. He’s a guy. When I began with my work almost two years ago, nobody knew who I was. Now they know me. It won’t work to go to Dazed and Confused doing a creative attack anymore, because they know who I am. I mean I was on their cover so it would look like a present to them. This is why my work has to be elaborated constantly. The story has to adjust to the new standards. So one of the main aspects of my work is doing research about what is happening in the art, fashion and media world every day. My concept is that every time I appear my look changes. I’ve worn hundreds of different masks because I always tell a different story. I use fashion as a medium to translate what I want to say.
Are there some topics that repeat?
Theo-Mass overpowers Alexis. My Alter-Ego kills my Ego.
You are developing the first ferrofluid costume that has ever existed in the world. The project is called “#themutantreturns.”
It’s a nine-piece costume that is really difficult to make. I just finished the experimental part. We were facing a lot of difficulties. I’m going to wear this costume and I will walk into a pool filled with ferrofluid that will cover my whole body. This performance will take place in L.A. next year. As I mentioned before I will create different characters – one of those will be the ferrofluid guy.
The most difficult guy.
What will you present in the exhibition “Faceless part II” opening at the end of September?
I will show a series of objects used in the previous six episodes, more like a timeline of my work from 2011 – 2013. You will also see some artworks created with 3D printing and 3D scanning, which I presented on my latest exhibition titled #postdigitalism as well as documentation material that was never seen before from several of my appearances, performances and creative attacks.
Theo-Mass Lexileictous was Artist-in-Residence at quartier21/MQ in August 2013.
#postdigitalism #faceless #themutantreturns #theomass
Interview: Margit Mössmer
Photos: Eva Ellersdorfer-Meissnerova
Damier Johnson is fashion designer and artistic director behind the label REBEL YUTHS. He has shown two of his knitted masks at the exhibition Faceless part I and is now going to present a whole collection at the MQ Vienna Fashion Week.