Patti Smith, Marina Abramovic, Beyonce (and more) Immortalized As Marionettes
Rachel Mason, artist, performer, iconoclast, and self-described Starseed (“people from another planet who come to earth specifically to fulfill a mission”) isn’t afraid to tackle the bigger questions—or to take on world leaders. Past works have included a classical-style sculptural rendering of herself and President Bush making out, immortalizing him in the most compromising of situations and putting him on a pedestal to take him off his pedestal, so to speak; a series of miniature porcelain busts of political figures, accompanied by music she composes that imagines the inner life of dictators and power brokers—“I started to fantasize that I could play with all of these world leaders like dolls,” she once said; and a performance as a “Filibustering FutureClown,” in which she lip-synced the Republican Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster last year, while dressed as a jester character in a papier-mache hat and harlequin makeup.
Now Mason turns her eye toward her real idols and brings us “Starseeds,” her first solo show at envoy enterprises, replete with sculpted marionette-like busts of Joni Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Marina Abramovic, Yayoi Kusama, Patti Smith, Ana Mendieta, and Beyonce. “I spent the better part of the years 2004-2011 studying the faces of world leaders who were involved in wars during my lifetime,” she says, “Sculpting porcelain busts and writing songs in their imagined minds was an exercise I undertook in order to grasp the massive numbers of people killed in conflicts during my life...Finally I was done.” Just as she rendered history subjective and personal in her musical compositions, “The Songs of the Ambassadors,” now she lovingly crafts forms of female icons and heroines to become distinctly human. Currently perched atop pedestals, bedecked in shards of mirrored glass, and suspended from the gallery ceiling, Mason’s eccentric cast of characters continues to delight.
“Rachel Mason—Starseeds” is on view at envoy enterprises February 23rd–March 30, 2014.