Rachel Mason: The Lives of Hamilton Fish Rock opera and album launch presented by Art in General at ROOT Studios
Performances: Friday, March 6, 2015–Saturday, March 7, 2015
Tickets: $12 BUY TICKETS
Location: ROOT Studios, 443 West 18th Street, New York, NY MAP
Press release: Download .pdf
Art in General is thrilled to present the Manhattan debut of Rachel Mason’s rock opera The Lives of Hamilton Fish March 6–7, 2015.
The Lives of Hamilton Fish is a cinematic performance based on figures who lived in New York state during the Great Depression. The deaths of serial killer and a statesman—both named Hamilton Fish—are announced on the same day. Hamilton Fish II is a descendant of one of the most prominent families on the east coast, and Hamilton “Albert” Fish is a psychopath and notorious murderer. A newspaper editor, played by Mason in drag, becomes obsessed with this coincidence after publishing their simultaneous obituaries on his front page. The film’s story is told entirely through original songs performed live, as a surreal tale unfolds where supernatural events and historic facts merge in a wild, musical journey.
Scenes were filmed at historic sites including Sing Sing prison, where Mason was a volunteer art teacher from 2005-2010, and the Jumel-Morris Mansion, where Alexander Hamilton was shot. Real locations are intercut with fabricated sets imagined as abstract paintings, mimicking the actors’ makeup and costume design. The Lives of Hamilton Fish aims to be a new kind of multimedia storytelling, combining music, cinema, and live performance into a theatrical experience with its foundation in art making and songwriting. Guest musicians include: Michael Durek (theUse), Jeanann Dara, and Lala Ryan (Excepter).
This performance is programmed in conjunction with the exhibitions Rachel Mason: Listening Dolls, curated by Kristen Chappa and Sara Greenberger Rafferty: Repair, curated by Anne Barlow at the kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga November 21–December 21, 2014 as part of Art in General’s International Collaborations program.
Rachel Mason is a visual artist, songwriter, and performer. She has recorded twelve full-length albums of songs, and has exhibited artworks and performed nationally and internationally at venues including the Queens Museum, New York; the School of the Art Institute in Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; SculptureCenter, New York; The Clocktower Gallery, New York; Kunsthalle Zurich; the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson; the Swiss Institute, New York; Human Resources, Los Angeles; The New Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York; the Park Avenue Armory, New York; and EMPAC Center for Performance, Troy. Mason has shared stages with Josephine Foster, Prince Rama, Diane Cluck, Sharon Von Etten, Phosphorescent, Light Asylum, and Ed Askew among other renowned musicians, and she has been the subject of articles in publications including The New York Times, Artforum, The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, and Flash Art. Mason received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and her M.F.A. in Sculpture from Yale University. Originally from Los Angeles, she is currently based in New York City.
The Lives of Hamilton Fish is a What Now? public program presented in conjunction with Art in General’s annual spring conference. The What Now? symposium is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, award MA-10-14-0304-14.
“Both Were Born Hamilton Fish, but Their Paths Differed–The Film ‘The Lives of Hamilton Fish’ Is About a Politician and a Criminal,” The New York Times, Tammy La Gorce, January 17, 2015. View article.
“The Making of “Hamilton Fish”: Rachel Mason’s Eight-Year Saga,” Whitney Kimball, January 29, 2015. View article.
Press contact: Aimee Chan Lindquist, [email protected]
General Support of Art in General is provided by General Hardware Manufacturing Inc.; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Lambent Foundation; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Greenwich Collection; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the William Talbott Hillman Foundation; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Additional special event support provided by ROOT Studios.