January 22, 2020

What do we owe those trapped behind broken faces?

Liz Greye, 30

The Great War was unlike anything that came before. Demonic machinery and twisted metal tore through men like tissue paper, and in the aftermath shell-shocked nations struggled to put the pieces back together. A poignant example is found in the development of early facial prosthetics, an attempt to give maimed soldiers some semblance of their lives back. The photos of those men in their metal masks are haunting. It’s the uncanny beauty of the work, the pity we feel for the subjects, and because we understand and admire the compassion of those who desperately sought to give those people back their faces. But do we owe them more than pity? Than compassion? Do we owe them the understanding that who they are underneath the mask is whole and is worthy of unflinching love? This story follows a fictionalised version of one of those early prosthetic sculptors and her heartbreak at the limitations of her work. The simplicity of the story aims to ground the theme in a more intimate context and asks what it is we owe the people in our world who find themselves trapped behind their faces.

The Facemaker, 2019