ASPIRATIONAL AQUARIUM WITH PICTURE WINDOW
“Aspirational Aquarium With Picture Window” took the form of a cathartic karaoke medley performed by me as a “goth mermaid” persona (embodied by a crimpy red/black gradient wig, a smoky eye, bikini top and shiny green mermaid tail). The medley segued from a reading of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Ariel” to a remixed MIDI cover version of “Part of Your World” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and finally to a cover of NIN’s “Closer.” Conflating all of these sources, I was interested in the thing they had in common—a longing for connection.
The idea for the performance arose as a response, in part to a group show (comprising women artists titled What are you looking for?). It was also a response to my mother’s recent death and the alienation she felt as an aspiring amateur artist and a mentally ill woman, and also to the alienation many other women artists, myself included, may feel at times trying to claw their way towards their artistic dreams.
Highlighting the alienated emotions of this hybrid character (and also due to the small gallery space in which the piece was performed), the audience was positioned outside of the gallery to watch the character through a large glass window, transforming the space into an aquarium or a bell jar. However, an amp was positioned on the street outside where the audience stood so that they could hear everything that I said/sang.
The performance began as I entered the space through a back door. The mermaid tail was made of a tight spandex and constricted my movements so that the entrance became a slow and awkward wiggly shuffle across the floor. I crossed the space to turn on a karaoke machine and my microphone and then began to manually fill the space with smoke from a fog machine. After several spurts of smoke, I began to read the poem. As I transitioned into the songs, I began to dance slowly and later to writhe on the floor like a fish out of water as the NIN segment of the performance began, flipping my tail seductively. Intermittently, I would produce some more smoke to keep the room moody.