On January 20, 2017, the swearing in ceremony of Donald J. Trump as President of The United States was lip synced by LA-based artist Rachel Mason as her internet Avatar character FutureClown. As noted by Carolina A. Miranda at the Los Angeles Times, “if you missed Trump’s speech, you can always watch the clown version instead”. In the words of Priscilla Frank at Huffington Post, “For many, watching a futuristic clown sworn in as president seems less strange than the real thing”.
The performance was live streamed from the nonprofit gallery LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), viewable by passers-by and streamable in real time via Facebook. This was the only event on LACE’s schedule, which was closed to the public that day to observe the nationwide culture strike #J20, which called on art institutions to close on Inauguration day.
Contemporary art publication ArtFCity completely shut down its website for the same reason except for one sole feature on their site for the live stream of FutureClown’s Inaugural speech. Their statement reads: “From our perspective, clowning the entire event is pretty much the only reaction a sane person could have to the inauguration”
The Queens Museum in New York also streamed FutureClown’s Inaugural Speech in the Atrium during the “Sign of The Times” sign-making program for participants in this weekend’s Women’s March protest were making signs over the weekend.
Mason has long used her FutureClown persona to tackle political events that seemed somewhat out of this world. Her unique approach has led to coverage in the LA Times, NY Times and numerous other publications.
In 2015, FutureClown re-enacted the GOP Debate, lip syncing each of the candidates. According to Huffington Post, “Mason achieved the near impossible task of making Trump look more clownish than he’s already appeared”. In 2013, she wove together the Filibusters of Senator Rand Paul and Wendy Davis, a 13-hour ordeal that ended up being featured in the New York Times.
This is political. This is performance art. This is just one facet of the artist that is is Rachel Mason. Touted as “one of the most creative forces in the world” by Impose Magazine, she is best known in music circles for delivering fantastical narratives that interweave musical, theatrical and narrative elements into unexpected operatic journeys. Through her wide-ranging portfolio of mixed media work, she instigates fantasy and harsh realities through scripts, sculpture, rock operas, live performances and compositions that span over a decade.
She has recorded 13 albums and created many music videos. Her feature film ‘The Lives of Hamilton Fish’ toured the world in 2015 and recently released on VOD. Mason has exhibited her visual art and performance work at museums, film and performance festivals internationally and at many of the country’s leading art galleries.
Towards the end of 2016, she released her latest ‘Das Ram’ LP via Cleopatra Records and artist-run cassette label Practical Records with noted comparisons to Jenny Hval, Lene Lovich, Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), SIA, Kate Bush, and Siouxsie Sioux. This album conveys the stories of specific characters, who define and delight in their own realities and cosmologies, and individuals who create their own world views, their own religions, and fantasy lives.
“More than a touch of Siouxie Sioux or Karen O ’s drama in her expressive vocals, supported by electronic pop sonics”
The Big Takeover Magazine
“A Spellbinding Singer”
New York Music Daily
“One of the most creative forces in the world”
“A voice part Emmylou Harris and part Yoko Ono”
New York Times
“Equally indebted to the Who’s Quadrophenia and the Steve Reich opera The Cave, with video and music interacting in fluid, complex ways”
“Soothsayer, harlequin, medicine woman”
“Tempting to draw comparisons to both Kate Bush and Paul Giovanni’s earthy soundtrack for The Wicker Man, but this is all Mason, her persona leaving an indelible impression on the listener”