Mobutu Sese Seko, Performance from Songs of the Ambassadors, 2007
Music & Performance
Part of the series In Real Life: Studio

Rachel Mason: The Moving Mountain

OCT 28, NOV 10, DEC 2, 20 & 22, 4:00PM-6:00PM

In Real Life: Studio provides a glimpse into the working processes of artists. Throughout the fall a select group of artists utilizes spaces in the museum to convene and rehearse new material, including theater, dance, music, and performance. While some artists and collectives will simply discuss or workshop material, others will produce a new project from rehearsal to final performance. 

Project Statement

Rachel Mason's new expanded project The Moving Mountain is currently in development as part of the Hammer Museum’s In Real Life: Studio. The Moving Mountain is a theatrical and discursive platform where fiction, science, and autobiographical stories form a soundtrack for a theatrical tableau girded by dance and poetic visualization. For this project, Mason conducts one-on-one interviews with a range of individuals from leading academics in the sciences to politicians, to clergy, and anonymous individuals whose ages range from centenarians and toddlers. Pulling together disparate voices through recorded conversations interwoven with music and dance, a new platform for nonlinear storytelling proposes a living, breathing organism as a monument to a constantly adjusting contemporary civilization. 


Rachel Mason is a sculptor, musician and filmmaker. In 2016 she released her first feature film, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, whose story is told entirely through songs. It has been the subject of over 50 published articles and had its Los Angeles premiere at LACMA. From 2004–2010, Mason developed a music-based sculptural self-portrait series called "Songs of the Ambassadors" a series of porcelain busts of political figures engaged in wars during her lifetime. The project entailed two complete albums of songs imagined in the minds of political figures, as well as over one hundred individually sculpted miniature busts. This project has been shown at the Detroit Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Zurich, Chicago Art Institute and the City University in New York. Mason has a wide presence on Youtube ranging from music videos to re-enactments of political events such as the 2015 Republican Presidential Debate and Rand Paul's 2013 filibuster, performed under the guise of an internet avatar called FutureClown.  Mason is also known for a sculpture called Kissing President Bush which was printed as a full page image on the cover of the New York Times Weekend Art Section in 2004. While an undergraduate at UCLA, Mason interviewed all of the deans at the university and gathered them together for a private meeting which filmed and presented as a performance for public display. Also while at UCLA, Mason scaled the 8-Story Dixon Art Building which formerly housed the art school and she was temporarily expelled. The video of her scaling the building has been shown at museums and film festivals internationally. Mason's work has been presented at institutions including The Queens Museum, School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Henry Gallery in Seattle, James Gallery at CUNY, University Art Museum in Buffalo, Sculpture Center, Hessel Museum of Art at Bard, The New Museum, Park Avenue Armory, Art in General, La Mama, Galapagos, Dixon Place, and Empac Center for Performance in Troy. Mason has recorded 14 albums of music, written 3 operas and her forthcoming album, Das Ram will be released on Cleopatra Records and Practical Records in November 2016. She is currently working on a documentary about her parents' bookstore, Circus of Books.

Attending this program?

Location: Courtyard
Ticketing: This drop-in program is not ticketed.
Parking: Under the museum. Rates are $6 for the first three hours with museum validation, and $3 for each additional 20 minutes, with a $20 daily maximum. Cash only. 

In Real Life: Studio is a Public Engagement project organized by January Parkos Arnall, curatorial associate, Public Engagement.

The Hammer Museum’s Public Engagement program is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.