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Rachel Hacking

first performed on October 23, 2020
Residency Unlimited
performed once in 2020


Oriana Hawley, Ilaria Hawley

New York, NY


“X-Agent / Destroy Monster Regimes” is a multimedia performance work produced with remixed text and redactions from the Mueller Report. The performance consists of a 35-minute live and pre-recorded sound work made up of twelve separate sections that run without pause. At the heart of the project is a twelve-part libretto/graphic score using text and redacted shapes remixed from the first half of the Report. Each section of the performance comprises a different movement of the work, engaging eclectic genres, moods and modes. Projections, redaction mats (on which the audience sits), and large prints representing pages from the libretto/graphic score fill the space where the work is performed.

In this time of global pandemic, urgent political upheaval, and deep historical reckoning, “Destroy Monster Regimes” explores issues of misinformation distribution, technocratic power, and populism’s linguistic appeal to melodramatic narratives. The larger performance piece loosely follows the narrative of Russian interference in US elections and social media from 2014–2016 focusing on a fictionalized persona X-Agent—whose name comes from the tool Russians used to hack DNC computers—but ends with a call to action against “monster regimes.” The libretto/score hybridizes distinct voices from the report to create a palimpsest of language highlighting deceit, intrusion, and poetic musings into authenticity of information and possible resistance.

The sounds and songs draw upon a variety of influences from Shostakovich’s encoded notations signaling the KGB knocking at his door to American protest folk songs, trap beats mixed with samples of Orson Wells’s voice, avant-garde jazz, and more. Instruments include amplified flute, violin, viola, kalimba, and laptop. Violinist Rebecca Fischer sings and plays as I mix electronic levels and perform one section of the piece through an old telephone-turned-microphone. Violist Oriana Hawley sings and plays, and flutist Ilaria Hawley also performs. I operate several digital and analogue overhead projections throughout the performance.

The project had its premiere just before the pivotal 2020 American elections. Beginning at sunrise, we performed the work throughout the day for small groups of socially-distanced audience members, ending at sundown.

Performances were also streamed online at the project’s web component,, a net hub where people can engage in research, submit ballot requests, buy redaction paraphernalia, and eventually play games.