Instituto de la Máscara | Publications
Formación Oficial en Salud, Arte y Educación. Es una institución que articula lo psicoterapéutico, lo corporal, el psicoanálisis, el psicodrama, lo grupal, la creatividad y las máscaras. Este entramado constituye una definición conceptual y metodológica. La máscara revela y oculta a lo largo de la historia humana, lo personal, lo cultural y lo social.
Instituto, Máscara, Formación, Salud, Arte, Educación, Psicoterapéutico, Corporal, Psicoanalisis, psicodrama, grupal, creatividad, conceptual, cultura, social
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The Institute’s artistic search is directed towards the investigation of the process that goes from the personal experience of body – dramatic experimentation to the creation of an artistic statement.


One of the fields of research we have developed with masks in our Institute of the mask is the expressive and artistic field, where we include the masquerade.
The rnasquerade involves our concern for the mask, the body, the scene, the actor-spectator relationship, the active participation of the audience, the scenic space, the relationship with a text previously written and the actor’s sense-retaking, the artistic creation by using accessible techniques for the lay audience and the possibility of “using and wearing” the artistic product, etc.
Some of these ideas have been included in our book “Las máscaras de las máscaras~ (The masks of the masks), Editorial Letra Viva, 1980, by Mario J. Buchbinder and Elina Matoso.
The masquerade is a creative act in which the audience takes part by making their own masks using simple artistic techniques and then interacting with each other in scenes and body games with their masks.
We define the masquerade as a show, yet with the active participation of the audience. The place where the masquerade is carried out becomes a scenic space. When we have a masquerade, we invite the audience to make their own masks with the materials we have previously layed out on the work tables. Techniques and materials must be easy so that the members of the audience can make their own masks successfully. Twenty or thirty people gather around each table and a coordinator’s guides this stage, which we call “The art of making the masks”. Then we move on to the following stage, which consists in wearing and using it. This stage brings on the games in the group, focused on the masks worn by each of the members of the group, which remains the same as the one in which the masks were created.
Another phase is the interaction with all the participants’ masks within the masquerade. Our priorities in the masquerade are: playing, the chance of creating with others in this case, sharing the creation of masks, the scenic production and the playing with the body. Our experience tells us that the mask promotes playing in general and scenic playing in particular. It also invites the audience to participate and take an active attitude.
We have carried out masquerades with groups of about 50 people and also, with groups of about 500 people. Each of these groups showed to have different developments, not only due to the size of the group, but also due to the different orientations the audiences themselves give rise to.
Our coordination aims at guiding and leading the masquerade, marking different stages, which achieve a good atmosphere and will later give way to playing.
Briefly, we can say that the masquerade includes two aspects: playing and the show. It is both of these, yet not in the traditional sense.
It is not a play, nor a party, nor a show, nor a ritual, yet it is all of these at the same time.
Pavel Campenau, in “Semiología de la representación” (Semiology of Representation) refers to the antinomyc effects of the actor-spectator relationship. The first one he points out is the social need of stability and the modifying function of theatre.
We believe that this modifying function is very intense in the masquerade, where the theatrical ritual is actually altered. This is related to the following. reasons:

1 – The modification of the scenic space, since the whole of the place where the masquerade takes place becomes a stage.

2 – The patterns of interpretation and performance are modified, since the motivational core generated by “the play” or <‘the show” is intimately related to improvisation, giving rise to a sequence of “live” spontaneous scenes, whether articulated o- with another or not.

3 – The active participation of the audience modifies the actor-spectator relation-ship and the protagonist becomes massive.

The intensity of the experience of a masquerade renders it necessary for us to elaborate on different theories and practical applications we are dedicate8 to.
Masks have been worn by human beings ever since the origin of humanity. The ceremonies of primitive man cannot be understood unless we resort to the mask. Yet this not only applies to primitive man, but also, it has become a part, in a different way, of man nowadays.
We believe that the recovery of the mask by contemporary man and the possibility of playing with the mask enables man) to play with his or her universal history and personal story, as well as with man’s myths.
The possibility of interacting with the masks of a population (we here refer to the masks which are an essential piece of the constitution of society, of a community, or a tribe) is a privileged way of tribal and community integration and also, it offers the opportunity of understanding and integrating the different regional cultures of a nation.


Scenic, poetic, corporal psychotherapy

I will elaborate on a psychotherapeutic practice I have been leading for over 20 years now. Here, body, stage and poetry never cease to be present. Not only in prescribed exercises but also in an attitude that deliberately highlights their presence.
The corporal element in-forms of a body both present and absent, familiar and unknown, erogenous and predator. It gives an account of that aspect of a body that- is interrogative, in a way that is related to what Freud defines as the navel of dreams both metaphorically and literally. The navel is the locus of the unknown, origin and residual bodily centre of the forlom unity with the mother.
The scenic element is tied to theatrics and psychodrama. -But there is more. It is the ability (and power) to appreciate/ perceive the scene as the staging of a fantasy. Primal scene, secondary scene; of fantasy, of reality, of the history of a subject, a character; scene of a group, scene of an institution, historical mythical cultural scene. This recalls Martínez Bouquet’s denomination/ appeal to “thinking in scenes” (the scenes of thought/ thought in scenes/ scenic thinking). The pre-scenic becomes comes into present in the conjunction of the corporal and the scenic. The pre escenic laks the structure with text, stage and clear-cut characters of scene.
The poetic element is in relation to poiesis as creation and production of new signification. -The poetic is a progressive link to truth. It is no adjustment, but a progressive discursive link, where discourse is understood as an action. I stress the poetic quality of a person, of his/her actions, of his/her body with regard to Freud’s new psychic act and Castoriadis creative imaginary.
The name Scenic, poetic, corporal psychotherapy is related to “The Poetics of Unmasking” that is, together with Psychoanalysis the theoretical groundwork of my praxis. The former is the latter practical implementation; they feed on each other.
We must not reduce the corporal to a technique. The body is that which questions our identity. It is the presence of nature in culture, it is what is indeterminate, the drive, sexuality, love, aggression, erogenicity, and the embodiment of culture itself. Exercising the body can expose this crux or simply mask it.
I will refer, by way of example, to the development of a -phantasmatic corporal map in a group of students of Psychodrama. This discipline is a part of scenic, poetic and corporal psychotherapy.

Study of the FBM
Tarja’s visit to the country and to our course stimulated the study of the relation between body and scene, internal organs and psychosomatic symptoms. A journey inwards. It was operated by means of group corporal exercises and protagonist-centred exercises. The group exercises investigated respiration, the respiration tree, the heart and the circulation system.

Definition of the FBM
It is the unconscious image of the body. A map, where significant happenings in the life of a subject are marked, is put under the spotlight. The map is the outcome of different techniques used in its construction. A common way of starting it is by sketching the outline of someone’s body. Another person in the group performs this. The filling is achieved through diverse sorts of plastic and corporal techniques.
First stage: It consists in the study of the image of inner organs and of the FBM drawing, parting from the sketch of the body outline. The contour is filled both on the inside and outside by the person whose picture it is.
A second stage in the construction of the map was the observation, the comparison and integration of the maps of other students, as well as a number of corporal and dramatic exercises responding to those maps.
The third stage is a moment of experiential work on a particular person. On commenting on the drawing, Ana makes a gesture with her hand at the level of her abdomen and says, “as if I had bugs or worms”.
On commenting on an area of the drawing named “the nonogon” on account of its nine sides, she says (with her whole body, and especially with her hand gesture) that something like bugs of worms is located at the height of her abdomen.
I pick on the gesture and suggest her to play with it. She produces an exercise with her hands, that feeds into a “theatre of shadows”. A stage is created substantiating a metaphor of the inner stage of the protagonist. She gives a performance with her hands that allows her to take a certain distance and hence perceive differently the worms in her “belly”.
Initially, the work is centred on the hands, but then the whole body is integrated, as are sound and respiration. The exercise resignifies the worms and the drawings she had done previously.
The body appeared in the different moments: drawings, visualisation, gesture, corporal work on the gesture, sound, respiration, energy.
The dramatic corporal work was seen, generally, to generate links with what was explicit and implicit in the pictures.
The pictures “map” the FBM. The corporal work gave the pictures another movement, i.e., a re-incarnation and re-creation. The codes used in the work were verbal, pictorial, corporal and scenic, by aid of oral expositions, drawings, movements and performances.
The corporal as a technique gradually became dramatic but never stopped being corporal. That is to say, there is both body and scene.
The pre-scenic too. I refer to the moments where there is a scene lacking in a structure of characters, texts, conflicts, etc. It is a cue for archaic language, that language of origins, of fundaments, of the pre-linguistic, that space for that which cannot be worded.
The mask teams up with the pre-scenic, with the language of the beginning of time, with the recuperation of the bond between the mythic, the historical and the poetic.

Here is a clinical situation of scenic, corporal and poetic Psychotherapy as appeared in a group of students.
The PCM is constructed starting from the drawing of the outline of a body. A gesture from its author leads to a corporal work with gestures and becomes dramatic in the creation of a stage. The poetic element is linked to the creative aspect, no only as it appears in the techniques but also in the investigation, by the patient (in this case the pupil), of new significations and in the creation of new senses for herself, her history and her body.
The comments and interpretations -held to the exercises carried out. The interpretations do not replace the reality of the intensity of the experience in the session, but endeavour to word that which expresses itself as symptom in the patient.


Buchbinder Mario J., Elina Matoso “Las Máscaras de las Máscaras”, Edit. Letra Viva, Bs. As., 1980, reedición EUDEBA, 1994.

Buchbinder Mario J. “Poética del desenmascaramiento. Caminos de la cura”, Editorial Planeta, Bs. As, 1993.

Elina Matoso: El cuerpo territorio escénico, Paidos, 1992, Bs. As.