When Rand Paul spoke for nearly 13 hours against the nomination of CIA director John Brennan and Wendy Davis railed for more than 11 hours against HB2, they weren’t clowning around.
Not so much with Rachel Mason. The artist and musician has turned Paul’s epic filibuster into political theater, as it were, by dressing up as one of her signature characters, FutureClown, and reenacting the 13-hour stand in a video now on view at Envoy Enterprises. And she’s not done yet: on Wednesday, FutureClown will perform a surprise filibuster from history in the basement of the Lower East Side gallery.
After Paul’s epic takeover of the Senate floor, Mason wanted to experience a filibuster for herself (didn’t we all?). So she dressed up as a slightly disturbing postmodern clown and spent 13 hours mouthing the words of the Kentucky legislator and his colleagues as they echoed through the Senate chambers. Mason thinks FutureClown made the filibuster “more watchable,” even if by the end of it her body was “feeling a dislocated, phantom-limb reverberation.”
As the artist sees it, filibustering is just another form of performance. “It suspends time and focuses all attention on a single endeavor,” she says. “It is like Petit crossing the tightrope between the Twin Towers. It takes that kind of chutzpah and passion on the part of the performer.”
Before the exhibition at Envoy Enterprises, which screens Filibuster in full, Mason uploaded it to YouTube in one-hour segments, just like Paul did. “I want FutureClown’s filibuster to find its way into the searches that people do when they look up other filibusters,” she explains. “I would love for people to stumble onto this piece and perhaps compare it to the original version.”
You can stumble onto the piece yourself by watching the first hour above.
“Filibuster” on view through August 8 at Envoy Enterprises, 87 Rivington St. btwn. Orchard and Ludlow, Lower East Side; live performance June 24 at 7pm