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Jósa Goodlife

first performed on July 8, 2015
Rosekill Farm, Rosendale, New York
performed once in 2015


Queens, NY


“Am I pretty now?” was created with fashion designer Jósa Goodlife at an artists’ residency titled “Essential Departures” at Rosekill Farm (near Kingston, NY). Artists responded to the site with consideration of the female body’s contextual relationship to nature as a point of departure. Artists were invited to participate with a performance work on this theme while using the opportunity to develop practices through intensive exchange and dialogue within a stunning natural environment.

I swam in a lake naked (feeling vulnerable like the surrounding nature), with the exception of my head which was adorned with limbs of a tree. Wearing this elaborate headdress we made of natural materials, wooden branches and flowers I swam slowly. The natural environment inspired us to decorate a simple yet elaborate crown for my solo performance. The woods and the lake gave me a very simple and primal approach to the work with thoughts of life and cycles. Our relationship to Mother Nature and the relationship to life and death was what persisted in my mind.

These elements, the large body of water and my brown body gave me the agency to be a native woman of the past, one not in need of covering myself up. The vast landscape and my body within that space intended to be a short narrative of survival. Here, I was from a foreign place washed ashore, easily camouflaged into this nature. I arrive by treading this body of water. The headdress, perhaps tribal in its own right may remind one of the headwear by Surma and Mursi tribes of East Africa’s Omo Valley, yet it is reminiscent of a Victorian silhouette. I wear what may seem like a traditional accessory of my own tribe. I carried what was important. Was this my identity? Or have we created a rare form of hybrid beauty trying to fit in?

I swam from one end of the lake to the other in circles. The longer I swam the more tension was built up in the calm and quiet lakefront. At moments my body just floated, pushing what looked like natural debris. As the performance came to a close I swam to the edge of the lake where I stepped onto the wooden deck and dressed into my nature patterned Kimono. I then lead the audience up the hill.