project image
Nabeela Vega

first performed on August 13, 2016
Fort Warren, Georges Island, Boston Harbor, MA
performed once in 2016


Brooklyn, NY


It is hard for me to describe this performance.

I would have wanted to share the experience of empowerment I felt.

Which I did feel.

I was interested in satirizing the political discourse of the election.

However, with Trump’s presidency, I am reflective in a very different way.

I hope that I will regain confidence in my own agency as an artist.

Diane the American Swimmer is a recurring persona project.

She is a ridiculous character whose main mission is to represent YOU.

She can do anything, ‘cause she’s American.

She claims she alone cleaned Boston Harbor.

As I, Diane the American Swimmer, held harbor water cupped in my hands, I bombastically claimed “I CAN DO IT”; all the while, drops of water slipped through my fingers. I could only ‘do it’ if I got help from the Boston community. A bucket of water was situated on the floor, under my hands. People were encouraged, through my whispers—in between the exaggerations and proclamations—to add water to my cupped hands from the bucket. The juxtaposition of my two voices, bombastic and loud versus whispered and urgent, reflected aspects of our public discourse; and the trajectory of the piece depends on the public’s response to them.

Through this character, I have done performances around and about water. In a global context, these interventions might be framed by the legacies of imperialism, colonialism, and hegemony; questioning such things as: What does it mean to be a US citizen in our global community? What relationships do individuals have to their own nationality? How do iconic figures speak for others?

The Boston Harbor cleanup represents one of the most important civic actions in Massachusetts’ history. This performance reminded us of our collective responsibility for defining what our institutions and public figures represent—government, military, even sports figures, etc. As in, we have the ability and responsibility to clean the water everywhere, and to keep it clean. Doing the performance at Fort Warren was important regarding the intention of the piece; it brought up questions of who we are as citizens, and what defense, security, and protection might mean in terms of our environment.