“Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow.” - W.H. Auden
A mirror is not a reflection of who we are, but the reflection of how we see ourselves. Mirrors are now part of everyday life, but before they existed, people went through life without ever seeing a truly accurate representation of their faces, only fragmented and distorted images reflecting on water surfaces or polished metals. The mirrors looked so magical that, when they appeared, they were quickly included into sacred rituals. In the beginning of the 15th century, glass manufacturers on the island of Murano, in Italy, discovered how to combine glass with a new technological advance in metallurgy, which allowed them to coat the back of a piece of glass with a mixture of tin and mercury, producing a highly reflective effect on the surface. The result was the mirror, which changed the way we see ourselves forever. The mirror helped to invent the modern self, in a real, but not quantifiable way. Because not even a mirror really reflects us when we don't want to see ourselves.
A mirror doesn't lie, it just doesn't show the whole truth. Just as our consciousness is a kind of mirror, so the consciousness we have of ourselves appears to us symmetrically altered, like a reflected image. Perhaps everything that passes through consciousness must be corrected and reversed for the true image to be revealed. Perhaps this is part of the illusion of the world, which can only be corrected by an additional artifice, with a mental twist, with the simulation of an inverted image - that shows us how we can truly be before ourselves. In Pakistan, after getting married, the bride and groom go to a room where they are alone, looking at each other, through a mirror. It is believed that, in this way, everyone can imagine themselves in paradise - that is, as they really are, their images transformed into the essential that eternity provides them, and not as they usually see themselves. Myths and beliefs aside, perhaps in this infinite game of mirrors and reflections the final question we must ask, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, is: “Who is the mirror looking at?”
P.S. In this issue dedicated to our own reflection and the way we mirror each other, you will find a Vogue mirror, which serves as a reading accessory, to assist you throughout the magazine with some inverted images and titles. Playing with reflexes, even the most distorted, is part of our playful genesis. I hope that this issue reflects you in the sane way the whole team feels reflected in those who read us.
*Translated from the original version from Vogue Portugal's "The Mirror Issue", published january/february 2021.
The Key One, from the Acceptance and Isolation series. Photography by Ziqian Liu.