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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

guatemala, masks, identity and the uncanny

Guatemalan masks from Masks Of The World: (left to right) Spanish general Pedro Alvarado -
Dance Of The Conquest, monkey - Deer Dance, Maximon (San Simon), Ajiz the shaman
Animate and inanimate at the same time, living and dead, fascinating and sometimes fear-evoking, the mask comes to life as humans put it on and breath spirit into it. The wearer can be identified with the mask and yet hides behind it, is known by their mask and yet escapes into fantasy and away from conventional identities, creates a false guise and yet reveals many guises, protects themselves from others but also from their real self, transforms, is changed and enacts change through the rites associated with the mask.

"Like the uncanny, it is familiar and unfamiliar simultaneously. The mask stands in an intermediary position between different worlds. Its embodiment of the fragile dividing line between concealment and revelation, truth and artifice, natural and supernatural, life and death is a potent source of the mask's metaphysical power."

Efrat Tseëlon: Masquerade And Identitities: Essays On Gender, Sexuality And Marginality

photo by fiat luxe

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