Remover of Obstacles
Remover of Obstacles
Guerilla street ritual performances 2012-2013
Main photo by Jamais Vu
Directly inspired by the Hindhu deity Ganesha, who is known as the remover of obstacles. This form, known as Gasmask Ganesha came to be, on an auspicious day during the rampant 2012 US election campaign season, when an incorrect order of a gasmask delivery coincided with a gifted vintage polio back brace. The entire concept, props and piece came together within one week, including the completely hand studded gas mask, sourcing an authentic gas pump, and the attachment of additional arms to the back brace.
The concept of Gasmask Ganesha was to embody and draw awareness to the multitiude of problems and obstacles plaguing the US during this critical time. The god-form was also a play on political party symbolism, as there was much distress in California on the possiblities of Republicans having an upper hand. This was also not long after the wrap of Occupy Wall Street, notorious for being unclear on which of the multitude of American problems they were protesting. American obstacles held in the hands of Gasmask Ganesha spoke to: the workforce and extremely high unemployment rates (stapler), Monsanto (corn), the food and agricultural industries (McDonalds fries, with injected toy animals), healthcare system (stethoscope), oil and escalating gas prices (gas pump), and finally our grossly declining education system (book with the USDE emblem). A later iteration switched the gas pump for a golden AK-47, speaking to the disproportionate over-funding of the military. These symbols were all depicted in gold to represent their ideals being held in highest forms.
Sightings of Gasmask Ganesha would appear throughout the city, conjured during times and places in need of the blessings of awarness, inspiration and of having “obstacles removed”. At times GG would materialize on a random street corner or atop a newspaper stand near a relevant event, some having included standing outside an election poll volunteer meeting, a labor union protest rally at City Hall, veteran fundraiser BBQ, Metro rail stations, a new-age Gods and Goddess themed club night, Coachella, Medicaid Street Fair, among many others. During this time period of city appearances was an accompanying wheatpaste and graffiti campaign where images of GG could be seen throughout the city, marking places that could use similar blessings of abundant awareness and clearing of the way.
A ritual was soon developed as commentary on what a “stereotypically typical” American had to draw on in terms of an offering of devotion and value in the face of such looming sociopolitcal calamities. An unidentifiable masked devotee would set up the street altar at a chosen location and invoke GG into the public space. The ritual consisted of American offerings in which pillar candles of pop cultural icons in three categories were lit. Additional offerings on the altar included french fries, ritualistically arranged Apple headphones, the lighting of cigarettes as incense, ritualized cell phone photography at designated points in the ritual and Coca cola sprinkled from an XXXXL Mega size cup for purification of the space before anointing themselves.
Unfortunately most video footage was lost to a broken hard drive. ︎