ARTIST FEATURE with NICOLE GOODWIN - ERASURE and reflections on “Ain’t I a Woman (?/!): Dusk Chronicles II”
by Nicole Goodwin
The concept of self-discovery through performance art is one that has been erected on a consistent basis. It is the struggle to find one’s self by digging through the layers upon layers of identity, peeling back the ego and the psyche to unearth ideas that are fresh, new and groundbreaking. That was the purpose behind my performance “Ain’t I a Woman (?/!): Dusk Chronicles II” at the Museum of Human Achievement (MoHA) with Performance Is Alive. I was searching for self through the idea of “erasure.” Trying to discover or “recode” myself through swimming into the murky sea of mixed-race genetics, while trying to redefine self and what it is to be Black. Or rather looking into the depths of my own soul searching for the reality I wish to form outside of oppression while recognizing that oppression is indeed all around me trying to take over my mind and body. Diving headfirst into what makes this corruption a solid thing—what is the force that is trying to corrupt my spirit?
When I discovered the root of these reflections as something both beyond, my weight had been lifted off my back and shoulders—for a short while my body existed beyond the daily pain. I had been lifted, delivered, I was something of free. Free of the trauma that had accumulated over years of trying to prove my Blackness in the hood; released from the shackles that purposely limits Blackness to a certain type of walk and talk in Black people, forced to live under the white standards and gazes that infringe upon our truest selves.
Taking into account the idea that it took me a year to summon the strength to do this performance. Pulling out of my body what was needed tin order to say what I wanted. I discovered at the last moment the particular “whiteness” I have been accused of being on the inside justified the purity I felt once the ritual was over. The pancake mix liberated my body in ways that haunted and fascinated viewers. It was juxtaposed with the video and what it was saying to viewers about self, transition, elevation and acceptance. It was an honor to bring forth these manifestos by being involved with Performance Is Alive.
Nicole Goodwin is the author of Warcries, as well as the 2018-2019 Franklin Furnace Fund Recipient, the 2018 Ragdale Alice Judson Hayes Fellowship Recipient, 2017 EMERGENYC Hemispheric Institute Fellow as well as the 2013- 2014 Queer Art Mentorship Queer Art Literary Fellow. She published the articles “Talking with My Daughter…” and “Why is this Happening in Your Life…” in the New York Times’ parentblog Motherlode. Additionally, her work '"Desert Flowers" was shortlisted and selected for performance by the Women's Playwriting International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.