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The 4 Famous Movements Where Masks Became Powerful Medium Of Expression


Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, masks have become a new necessity. We have talked about masks becoming the biggest fashion trend of the year 2020 but protective masks have also fallen into the political and social narrative. In the age of individualism, masks have been used as a medium to express. These masks have definitely transcended from just being a protective gear to a wearable tool that can be utilised for making your stand clear. Generally, people articulate through t-shirts but we believe masks are more eye-catching and just can't be overlooked.

Having said that, it's not to say that it is for the first time, people are using masks to make their unheard voices heard. If you browse through the pages of history, you will definitely find how important masks have been in the protests. So, we are going to talk about the important mask movements including the masks worn at the Black Lives Matter protests.

1. Masks Used In Guerrilla Girls Movement

Guerrilla Girls is an anonymous group of women, who advocate feminism and it was formed in New York City in 1985. The group aims at fighting sexism and racism in the arts field and it also focuses on bringing out the gender and racial inequality. The members of the group don gorilla masks as it is an anonymous group. Why they used gorilla face mask is nothing to do with the name of the group but more so to do with one of the members, who wrote 'Gorilla' instead of 'Guerilla'. It was a mistake but that mistake gave them a uniform mask. However, the women of colour in the group did find the idea of wearing a gorilla mask uncomfortable.

2. All About Pussy Riot Masks

A Russian feminist protest punk rock group, Pussy Riot was founded in 2011 and the group immediately gained attention with their first public performance in November 2011, Release the Cobblestones at a Moscow subway. Pussy Riot group has been vocal about feminism and LGBTQ rights. They have been against Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and were equally against Donald Trump's victory as the President. They wear bright face masks, which cover their head and face. The letter by a group of anonymous participants of the Pussy Riot group, who avoided trial for their performance, stated that the members of Pussy Riot cover their heads because they oppose the very idea of using the female face as a trademark for promoting any sort of goods or services.

3. The Guy Fawkes Mask

The Guy Fawkes masks are among the most popular ones and you must have seen this style of mask used in movies and shows including V for Vendetta and Money Heist. Guy Fawkes was an English soldier, who planned to assassinate the Protestant King James. The Guy Fawkes mask, also known as the Anonymous mask, has become a symbol of anti-establishment. These masks gained prominence with the Project Chanology by the Hacktivist group, Anonymous. Project Chanology was a protest movement against the practice of the Church of Scientology. Guy Fawkes masks also symbolised a fight against tyranny and as such these masks were worn by protestors during the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street movement, and more. It's among the most famous face masks worn by people.

4. The Masks In Black Lives Matter

In the present narrative, masks have become mandatory wear when stepping outdoors because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Amid pandemic, George Floyd was arrested in Minnesota in the USA and he subsequently died because of violence by the police, which led to the mass protest, Black Lives Matter. Angered by the killing of George Floyd, a number of people protested outside their homes and wore masks with slogans, such as 'White Silence Is Violence', 'Black Lives Matter', and 'I can't breathe'. The words, 'I can't breathe' were George Floyd's last words. This month is also the Pride Month and so, a number of people also wore rainbow masks to show their support for LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter.

Masks have definitely come a long way as the medium of expression, isn't it?

Story first published: Saturday, June 20, 2020, 10:00 [IST]