Bizarre or trending subjects, catch a break with our curiosity of the week. Visual artist Alice Rosati signs, with I am a mermaid, a quirky performance, inspired by mythology and the modern world.

“I consider myself a visual artist, not a photographer. I use this medium as a mere tool, like oil painting for a painter. It enables me to tell stories”, Alice Rosati says. From Milan, she started experimenting with a camera when she was 4, eager to put on a show to write fantastic narratives.I am a mermaid, a photobook published by KAHL editions is the result of a performance that lasted 5 years, she tells us. I’ve worked on the concept, its symbolism and editing… But I was not the one who took the pictures. They were taken by strangers, or – if there were no one – in self-portrait mode.” Completely covered with a golden suit, the artist placed herself in various scenes, playing with aesthetics, colours and absurdity to create a metaphorical tale.

A controversial figure

“My fascination with mermaid started at an early age, when I discovered Andersen’s tale, and it went on with Disney’s animation”, the artist tells us. The mythological being appears in numerous beliefs and traditions. Viewed as either an evil, charming or mysterious creature, it is known to cause natural catastrophes or arouse men’s desire. “The mermaid is a symbol, a metaphor, a mystical archetype, a controversial figure”, Alice Rosati says.

Refusing to assign her creation a gender, she drew inspiration from myths, pop culture and the Zentai practice – a sexual fetish linked to skin-tight clothes viewed as a second skin – to build her character. To her, this golden outfit represents a carnal envelope, holding the human soul, altogether forming a supernatural being bringing an absurd dimension to our daily life. “I also aim at making fun of contemporary art”, she jokes. Across 5 years, the mermaid has weakened. Her shiny scales no longer sparkle, and her skin is damaged. Like the original tale, she eventually chooses to die, “to reconnect with the absolute”. Between lyricism and irony, Alice Rosati signs, with I am a mermaid, a modern and impetuous fiction.


I am a mermaid, KAHL editions, 50 €, 112 p. 

© Alice Rosati