“First the air is blue and then / it is bluer and then green and then / black I am blacking out and yet / my mask is powerful / It pumps my blood with power”
And Yet My Mask is Powerful emerges from an exhibition by multimedia artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, held at Carroll / Fletcher in London in 2016. Carrying on from their earlier project The Incidental Insurgents (2012-2015), the artists address the apocalyptic logic of perpetual crisis that characterizes the contemporary moment. The project takes its title from Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving Into the Wreck,” and like that of the poem, its mise-en-scène is a field of wreckage. Here, the artists visit destroyed villages in occupied Palestine, documenting groups of Palestinian youths wearing copies of Neolithic masks. These masks, some of the oldest in the world, were originally found in the West Bank and are now stored in private Israeli collections; they have been copied and 3D-printed by the artists from online exhibition photographs.
The book uses computer screenshots of images framed in software windows, layering them across the pages along with scans and typographic interventions. The work suggests a sense of collapse and return, but one oriented toward futurity, reworking the Arab world’s apocalyptic imaginary into another, parallel, unrealized time.