Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2013-14

(Los Angeles, CA)Emily Mast


In B!RDBRA!N, seven performers, ranging in age from 8 to 68 years, perform in a series of vignettes that expose the problematic and creative nature of (mis)communication and the ways in which words serve as objects onto which meanings are projected. Working at the intersection of visual art and theater, Emily Mast casts a stuntman, a stutterer, a sign-language interpreter, a comedian, a child, an auctioneer, and a theater director who describe, transcribe, interpret and gesture within a landscape of vivid colorful forms reminiscent of Guy de Cointet’s sets, elementary school classrooms and minimalist art. With allusions to the true story of Alex, a verbally skilled parrot who was the subject of a thirty-year avian language experiment with controversial findings, B!RDBRA!N questions whether our understanding is, as one of Alex’s critics wrote, simply a “complex discriminative performance.”


Emily Mast makes performances and ephemeral installations that incorporate bodies, movement, sound and idiosyncratic experience to exhibit uncertainty as live sculptural material. Her work consists of collaborative practices that celebrate their ambiguous position between art, theater, therapy, choreography, sociology and education. Emily’s work has been seen at Performa and Simone Subal Gallery in New York, Mains d’Oeuvres in Paris, MUHKA in Antwerp, Samson Projects in Boston, and LACMA, LACE, REDCAT, the Velaslavasay Panorama, Human Resources, The Blackbox and 533 in Los Angeles. Emily has been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center For the Arts, Yaddo and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She was recently awarded a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award, a California Community Foundation fellowship, and an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation.