Drawing from a residency at Mana Contemporary, Miami in the summer of 2018, ‘Post-Disney Depression’ is a series I am currently expanding on.
Professional ‘mermaids’ are increasingly in demand in Florida’s luxury resort areas, earnings begin at a low wage of $10 an hour (based on reports in 2017). In Miami, I underwent a mermaid training course at an upscale hotel pool. Awaiting my lesson with two instructors, I squeezed my body into the elastic fishtail. My lung capacity was tested as I de-performed the Disney-Pop cartoon high femme sea-to-land princess in what I like to call high-femme-Pop-drag. In the re-animation of the character of ‘Ariel’, I question the flawed psychology propagated by Disney. The trauma of many people enduring decades of racism, sexism, genderism, ageism, consumerism and body shaming is sadly engendered through mainstream media (like Disney). As a womxn, mother and artist, I remain muted or exhaustively ”tread” in our contemporary landscape.
The training is physically & emotionally intense; my body responded awkwardly and opposite to what was being ‘taught’ to me as simple gestures. It became apparent that these two womxn practiced for many hours to perfect the mermaid moves. My wig floats away on impact, the fishtail rips exposing the natural curves of my calf, hand-sewn padded sea shells burst from my bra. With my ankles tied together, the mortal danger of drowning while giving a stylized expression to my bodily movements and holding my breath underwater, demonstrated my emotional attachment to the anthropomorphic form of the mermaid.
Eventually, I try to become this pelagic character. I ponder broader consequences of animal and human life, “pressed” by rising tides of environmental catastrophes along every coastline on Earth. The lively animation of this ‘living non-living thing’ reifies my experience of walking through dead coral reef remnants washed up along the Miami coastline just the day before. As both subjects came to meet in this space, the assertion I aim to make through this work is that we are continually confronted with the hardships and complexity of ‘real life’ amidst the framing of contemporary cultural politic. Could the recovery of the ecosystem be inadvertently linked to my desperate attempt at re-visioning childhood ideals? What kind of planet am I leaving for my child and future generations?