I found my primary mask of revolt inadvertently, hidden in the corner of a photo I had taken while wandering but unnoticed by me at the time. Other masks were found on the walk, minor deities or demons of revolt no doubt but none of them felt like the mask. Later I sat down and looked through the photos, and suddenly there he was. He looked to be a very dark spirit, the patron saint of the earthquake and the guillotine. No humanity in him, just an intriguing void. Before I came across this mask I also found a decaying animal on the side of the road, face flattened, body contorted, dried out pools of blood around the head. A sacrificial offering? I tried to name my mask, but my mask has No Name.
This secondary mask was found close to the main mask, further down the same back alley. On a wall next to it was a cartoon of a policeman-pig, with the text “Fuck 12” (the police). It gives me the feeling of a dark old troll, a hermit spirit.
This whole area of downtown seems prone to fire. The earliest happened in a building a few feet from the primary mask. The basement area was used by firemen as a stable for their horses. The building caught fire one day and the animals burned alive. Many years later the adjacent building burnt down completely, and the lot has remained abandoned until the present. Down the road and to the right is the old movie theatre which burnt in 1942, just two years after opening. Now rebuilt, it sports the old Comedy and Tragedy Masks along its front.
Another incident that creeps into my mind often here; In the 1930s a black man killed a white police chief, resulting in his public lynching. Revolt and its violent counter-reaction. A failed revolution in miniature.
One final bit of local lore – it is said that when the sewage system was built it was built incorrectly, causing residents’ forgotten waste to push back up the pipes whenever it rained heavily. Just another episode in the return of the repressed. These days the pipes are fixed, the shit stays down… but, thanks perhaps in part to our local chemical plant, on some particularly special nights the senses are assailed by a strange odor situated somewhere between sulfuric rotten eggs and decaying vegetables…
This red mask was found by ML during a collective walk on a sunny day near an abandoned prison in Atlanta. The prison burnt down in the mid-nineties and has since become covered in plants and graffiti. One wall was found with the text “May All Prisons Come to Look Like This”. For me this mask calls to mind a spirit of humor and sexual perversion, of overflowing life and energy.
A few weeks later ML returned to this area and was tackled by a police SWAT team, threatened with arrest, photographed, and then let go.