Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Mason’

Seeds of Love

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Rachel Mason, the hardest working woman in the New York art scene, has a solo show up now at Envoy Enterprises.

Rachel Mason, "Starseeds," at Envoy Enterprises

Deeply personal, her show, Starseeds, builds on almost a decade of live performance, studio albums, video, sculpture, filmmaking, and political intervention. Starseeds channels Rachel’s vision of leading women in the art, music, and media worlds. A tiny queendom made from doll parts and mirror shards, the figures congregate throughout the gallery. Some are pinned to the wall like specimen samples, or suspended from the ceiling; others are perched, enthroned, or encrusted on custom pedestals.

Rachel Mason, "Starseeds," at Envoy Enterprises

These figures began to appear during Rachel Mason’s recent LMCC residency, when she decided to direct her ideas and dexterity toward creating likenesses of kindred artist elders. They include Frida Kahlo, Beyonce, Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, Madonna, Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Jonas, Yva Las Vegas, and many more.

Rachel Mason, "Starseeds," at Envoy Enterprises

The sculptures are a direct result, and contradiction, of Rachel’s earlier The Ambassadors sculptures. Those works focused on dictators, mostly male, who launched atrocities during Rachel’s lifetime, including Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, and more. Of The Ambassadors, Rachel writes:

“I wanted to understand how a small number of people could affect massive numbers of people so I had to stare them in the face. I had to get inside their minds. I wanted to understand how I am connected to these individuals because I believe that I am.”

The Ambassadors eventually expanded to include scores of other world leaders, then pointed Rachel toward The Candidate, a series of drawings of Democratic presidential candidates from 2007 to 2008. This political work took on another dimension when Rachel recently performed FutureClown Filibuster, a lip-synched performance of infamous Rand Paul and Ted Cruz filibusters, abridged.  In between these landmark exhibitions, Rachel conjured up autocrats and dictators through numerous live performances, videos, and original songs, some co-written by their subjects.

Rachel’s political artwork is rigorous and responsive, constantly refreshing itself to adapt to real-life and real-time events. But as an ongoing, durational reaction, it can appear to trail behind the events it addresses, inevitably forfeiting the opening argument. Which is why Starseeds is such a success. It enables Rachel to advance and propose an argument.  The Starseeds history, lineage, and canon are her original conception, her example, her model. Moreover, the Starseeds personae help us perceive where Rachel “is coming from” and begin to contextualize her outlook, or at least to paint a bigger picture of her worldview.


Further context becomes available when Rachel immerses herself among her sculptures in a video downstairs.  Clad in her own mirror spacesuit, highly expressive performs Marry Me Mary, a synthpop spell with mythic, morbid lyrics:

“Stone will survive unless it loses the will to stay alive
and you pretend to sleep so heavy, like a saint sarcophagi
and your marble tomb is getting old and clinging to a strip of earth
that bears your name and holds your place.”


The place in question, at least for this show, is a wayward planet in need of the larger-than-life personae captured in Rachel’s Starseeds sculptures.  The practitioners she invokes offer redeeming qualities and cures for the hostile conditions propagated by the tyrants Rachel sculpted in earlier projects. Twinkling in shimmering mirror cocoons and armor, the Starseeds sculptures remind us to look up and away before getting down and dirty.


One Night Rand

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

To supplement her exhibition at envoy enterprises, Rachel Mason donned the costume – including an impressive, architectural hat of papier-mâché – of her signature character, FutureClown, and performed a live version of her video, Filibuster.  For this performance, she selected about thirty minutes’ worth of excerpts from Rand Paul’s 13-hour long, failed monologue against President Obama’s appointment of John O. Brennan as director of the CIA.  Rachel also added excerpts from Wendy Davis’ recent filibuster to block Texas Senate Bill 5, one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Rachel Mason, "Filibuster"
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Over time, Rachel’s lip-synching begins to appear like a chilling, multi-headed invocation.  In addition to Paul’s and Davis’ voices, FutureClown mouths the hydra of surrounding voices in the Senate, including debate, chatter, and procedural objections.  Rachel’s presence becomes a funnel, a filtering embodiment of mixed motives and varying degrees of ingenuousness and indignation.  In one of these “peripheral” passages, Senator Ted Cruz reads tweets in support of Paul (#StandwithRand).  Another, which closes Rachel’s performance, is a quote from Davis’ Senate colleague, Leticia R. Van de Pute: “Mr. President, at what point does a female senator have to raise her voice or her hand to be heard over her male colleagues in the room?”

“In Filibuster, Mason seeks to understand the experience of being in the Senate and also what it feels like to participate in a challenge from within,” says the press release.  “Highlighting the absurdity of present day politics, Mason also attempts to directly enter the political theater by uploading each hour of her 13 hour video in the exact same way the Senator does in a single Youtube playlist.”

Filibuster is curated by Tim Goossens.

Open Wide

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

This weekend, studios downtown and in Bushwick will open their doors to the public!  If you are tired to thumbing through enviable pictures of gondolas, champagne, and merchants in Venice, then poke through art in your own backyard!

Open Studios weekend at the Workspace Residency of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council opens Friday night and continues through Sunday.  Workspace is a nine-month studio residency program for 18 emerging visual artists and 8 emerging writers.  Our eyes are on Rachel Mason, David Kennedy Cutler, and SVA Summer Residencies alum Grayson Cox, but you can see all Workspace residents on their profile pages.

SVA Summer Residencies alum Grayson Cox on his participatory sculpture

Across the East River, Arts in Bushwick presents the seventh annual Bushwick Open Studios and Arts Festival, which includes over 500 individual studios, spaces, and shows involving thousands of artists.  “This free event invites visual artists, performers, musicians, designers, and the public to celebrate creative expression in one of the most vital arts districts in the world.”  Here are our top picks, in random order:

Image by Loren Munk

Rock Street 2013: Sculpture on Rock Street (featuring SVA Summer Residencies alum Carol Salmanson)

The Parlor Bushwick

Amelia Midori Miller and Augustus Nazzaro 

Storefront Bushwick 

Secret Project Robot

Fedele Spadafora

Svetlana Rabey  (another SVA Summer Residencies alum)

Epic Fail  (featuring a DJ set by Ian Williams of the band, Battles)

Maria Britton, Amanda Browder, Kristen Schiele

We Eat, We Are 

Danny Balgley 


Animamus Art Salon


With a Sphere in My Heart

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Rachel Mason performance at Queens Museum. Filmed by Michelle Leftheris and featuring choreography by Curtiss Wesley, Jesse Lawyer and Asanti I (dancers), Michael Durek (theramin), Hugh Ash (trumpet), Amadis Dunkel (trombone), Chris Barick drums and costumes by Heather Quesada. “With A Song in My Heart” by Rogers and Heart

Little Big Band

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Rachel Mason and Little Band of Sailors present The Outsider at Asia Song Society:

That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe;
And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
Were long be-nightmared.

Inspired by The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft


Yva Las Vegas, David Smith (Doom Trumpet), David Riley (Mirror Mirror), Mark Golamco, Chris Haack, Rachel Mason, Stu Watson, Jasmine Davey, Michelle Mola, Tim Dowse