Natusha Croes

it’s a love and hate relationship: a perpetual limbo

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.  ― James Baldwin

I have been hearing my self preach visibility on repeat.
I’ve been hearing myself plead to my peers
to stop hiding underneath rocks
stop nurturing this idea that we have to protect ourselves by remaining underground.
It’s just nurturing fear
But I remember my naivety when I had to leave,
I remember the dreams
the over-charged enthusiasm
without really knowing what it means
I’ve been hearing that innocent voice speak, that voice did not meet any whiplashes
did not meet discouragement
that voice never got drained by fear


Images courtesy of Natusha Croes

It’s been almost a month since the opening of Caribbean Linked III
and I have been feeling in between
caressing a type of eagerness
the absolute paradox
that is to be a creative from the Caribbean
strolling in the dark
trying to grasp its own culture
but stumbling on the mol
half blind
searching for the manifestation of it’s own sense of identity

I spend my days hearing a song, it echoes in my head as if it’s a mantra holding a willingness to safe me.

The song is called Ojala que llueva cafe by Grupo di Betico, a family folklore band known for enchanting the locals with cheery songs during the new years festivities.
The song is originally from Juan Luis Guerra, a singer/songwriter from the Dominican Republic.
He is known for expressing discontents about the injustices that occur in Latin America.
Coffee, being a product that grows in abundance all trough various Latin America locations, still does not ease the poverty line. So the song is a chant for hope, a plead for a multiplication of abundance, for the ideal, for utopia.
I listen to my dad’s voice singing that song on repeat, he wasn’t a singer, he was a pianist. I can tell on one hand how many songs he has sung… he arranged, produced, orchestrated but rarely sung, so my brain is hardwired for meaning tries to hear out some underlining message, something profound. I guess I am chanting for abundance, for that good day, where the darkness absolves and all fear facing the act of creating dissolves.

There were moments during my artistic career where I wanted to deviate completely from what I was doing.
I wanted to lead a solitary life, pursue organic farming at Costa Rica, delve into yogic aspirations, induce a hippie life style, deflate my ego. Although that yearning still remains, there is something that brings me back to my practice.
It walks hand in hand with the deflated ego notion. It’s a sense of play, reckless performativity that creating brings.
I’m hugging the parts of me that are easily quitting, because it’s not a solid line, I’m pretty much the ocean, not still, not ready to compromise with land but ballad dancing, in between distance and closeness.

Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide. — D. W. Winnicott

I am wide awake in the midst of a frenzy. It’s funny how creativity streams at ungodly hours, wide awake witnessing the high tide plotting in and i have to surf it. I’m deepening my passion for more encounters, more dialogues, more acceptance, a direct exchange, so I’m trying to scheme a whole month of one-on-ones–in my house–carrying the theme: spectator meets creator.

I reveal it to Alex and Simone through a voice-note and it’s the mirror reflection in their voice that encourages me to continue charging up our strength and reckless need to give.
I was so estranged when I was living in The Netherlands. Maybe I underwent a cultural shock. I just remember experiencing everything as if through a fog, lonely. I was distant because I was losing the flourished feelings I entered art school with. I was losing the naivety that produced a gush of energy which fed my creative needs. I was losing or not finding a sense of community, feeling the borders of the scope of what it means to create art in an European context, losing my self in the blurry lines in between pretentiousness or just imaginative. I just know that coming from Aruba to Amsterdam with such determination and meeting commentaries such as: I’m experiencing a cultural jet lag has weirded me out so much, made me too damn aware of things that before were just sensations. If before I was just trying to visualize poetry, through the usage of familiar colors and shapes, now I was delving deeper into language, wrapping myself around words, trying to understand concepts. I wanted to come in dialogue with the European arrogance that told me I was suffering from cultural jet lag.

While sitting underneath Jess Wolff’s tree contemplating about our best foot forward towards artistic collaborations I feel the void wailing after a month of extraordinary encounters. Caribbean Linked has left a vacancy, an eager vacancy to continue collaborating and supporting each other through the sometimes debilitating cultural climate that reigns on the the island.  I slept for about eighteen hours after our exhibition and its been a while since my dreams where so vivid and sharp. I collapse on my bed, and marveling images of the north coast appear.
I see a tower of people standing underneath what seems to be the natural bridge, half in black half in purple, upon closer inception I see Alydia Wever, during the opening of Caribbean Linked III. I was bawling my eyes out because she was the opening act and it was filled with a remembrance for all the hardship we have to endure when we struggle to embrace the parts of us that resemblance weakness.
But we aren’t, we are just pouring our heart and soul in our practice and steering around the fact that we have to survive, earn a living, while left staring at a blank sensation when asked, so, how much do you sell this for , what is it’s monetary value?
It’s worth nothing, nothing monetarily
I’m here, for that remark, saying, you have inspired me to write, you have inspired me to keep on creating regardless the turbulence, you have inspired you have inspired!
A ruthless aspiration, I’m struggling because I don’t want to leave that part of me that wants to keeps on cultivating these connectivities without needing to have money in between.
But it’s okay, it’s all a learning experience and I’m embracing it.

Aruba’s cultural climate is meek. I am back now in the hopes I can beat the odds. In the hopes I can beat the saying that exclaims the sour frustration, the lack of progress, the non holding promise, the defeat that many local artists face. The enlightenment of attending a month of sharing experiences and honest remarks about our similarities and differences has brought a historical context I’ll forever be grateful for. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Caribbean linked III has shifted. I only know I share Alex’s experience. Tabanca the forlorn, wretched abandoned feeling that comes with the end of a love affair.

In order to help Aruba’s cultural development you have to keep a revolving-door mentality, a constant engagement with other cultures, in order to keep the windows and doors open, for a fresh flow of air, but maybe we have to stay, feel the lumpiness and feed the naivety, the sense-oriented way I had of creating, walking around barefoot engaging as much as I can with the local community, visit Artfama frequently, nurture and built trust so we can enrich our young collective much’i mondi.

I’m still digesting
Still feeding the in-between but thats okay.

this is for Darwin that keeps me believing in the beauty of vision and naivety, birthing reckless ingenuity

this is for Jodi because you have made this scattered puzzle piece of text come to life, you’ve made me meet the finish line
for Alex who expanded my vocabulary
for Holly for making me accept grief so gracefully
for Annalee that reminded me about the mirror that I see
for Elvis and our mutual struggles and communication difficulties
for Germille that keeps showing up regardless
for Kevin, loving music profusely
for Jess, reminding me of the child inside I have to feed
for Simone, that will be the reason I’ll search for the moon continuously
for MJ and her beautiful honesty
for Leo and his contagious kindness
for Aiko and her understanding that flows so abundantly
for Manuel, that makes me giggle and reach another level of introspection
for Razia and her love for community
for Diego and his profusion of happiness
for Leasho that has shown me how to wheat paste and be totally radical
for Natalie and her patient smile and lovingness
for Avantia that makes me want to be a morning person again
for Ryan for always being there
for Alydia that makes me want to be a dancer again
for Ronald
I dedicate this picture to you


About Natusha:

Natusha Croes was born in Aruba in August 1991. Early exposure to music, dance and theatre would later inform her various forms of artistic expression. While still a teenager Croes attended Ateliers ’89 for a year, participating in rigorous workshops hosted by teachers and curators from diverse backgrounds and media. Following that she pursued a Bachelor in Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Croes is currently a final year student at the department of Audio Visual.