Batman. The Lone Ranger. The Beagle Boys. Train robbers. Comedy and Tragedy. Zorro. The Man in the Iron Mask. Guy Fawkes. Darth Vader. Plague Doctor. Wax death masks. Carnival. Day of the Dead. Halloween. Mardi Gras. Catcher’s Mask. Oxygen mask. Gas mask. Wrestling mask. Facial. Domino.

We are always wearing masks of one sort or another. We wear them to conceal and disguise, to protect ourselves and our identity, to reveal our true selves and keep our secrets. It’s unsurprising that requiring pandemic masks to be worn would cause such controversy—they are the intimate second skin of our vulnerable faces.

The pandemic has changed the way we negotiate physical distance with each other; our masks have become metaphors for a different kind of spatial negotiation. The emotional commons where we usually share expressions and attitudes becomes a tangled field when we're masked. We have to read everything inside others solely by their eyes. What changes in our faces when we're masked? What do the eyes reveal when they must show everything? The text below each image in Masked/Unmasked was supplied, and mostly written, on the photo paper by the subjects themselves, so that each print is unique. And each is a unique look behind the mask.

—David Noah, September 2020

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About ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art

ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art is an independent, non-profit gallery promoting and supporting innovative contemporary art and artists through exhibitions, education, and events. Find us in Athens, Georgia.

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  • david noah
  • photography
  • Black and white
  • masked unmasked
  • masked/unmasked
  • masked
  • unmasked
  • portraits
  • portait
  • covid19
  • social
  • community awareness