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John Jarboe

in Residence at Bethany May 1st – May 15th

John Jarboe is in residence at Bethany Arts Community May 1-15, 2023.

During this two-week residency, John will be expanding existing work on Rose: You Are Who You Eat  which is a work in progress installation of films made at Bethany Arts Community following the gender journey of artist John Jarboe.  

Saturday, May 6, 2023: Installation open to the public, 10am-4pm
Friday, May 12, 2023: Installation open to the public, 5-9pm 
Saturday, May 13, 2023: Installation public showing & post-chat, 7-9pm  

From the artist: 
“This is a true story. 
In 2018 my Aunt revealed I had a twin in the womb. 
She said, “You know you had a twin in the womb?”  
I didn’t know. 
She said, “You ate her. That’s why you are the way you are.”
This was a lot to swallow.
I had just come out as genderqueer. My aunt’s processing of my gender as a result of fetal cannibalism is the seed for this piece: a celebration and “digestion” of this new found twin, who I later learned would have been named “Rose.” 


Rose: You Are Who You Eat tells a story of a childhood search for identity, queerness, and acceptance through the bizarre lens of fetal cannibalism. Jarboe, known as the founding artistic director of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, employs original songs, intimate storytelling, and lush films to transport the audience into her youth, the womb (a.k.a the scene of the crime), and the fantasy world of a young trans person growing up in the midwest. The journey is told with heart, acerbic wit, idiosyncrasy, and, ultimately, acceptance.  

Rose began as a commission and presentation from Works & Process at the Guggenheim through a bubble residency at Mount Tremper Arts in Fall 2020 and at Bethany Arts Community in Spring 2021. During that time, Jarboe and the Rose creative team (lead by filmmaker Christopher Ash and Director MK Tuomanen) created a series of films set to original music by Jarboe and a team of queer composers (Pax Ressler, Emily Bate, Daniel DeJesus, and Be Steadwell). Together, the films and music form the backbone of a live concert that premiered to a sold-out house at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in spring 2022 and then toured to the Source Theater in Washington, DC presented by Cultural DC. Rose also received production support from the Bearded Ladies Cabaret and FringeArts as well as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  

In collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) in Philadelphia, Rose has received a Pew Center for Arts and Humanities performance grant to grow into an exhibition, scheduled to open at FWM in March 2024. The installation is imagined as an immersive love letter to gender queerness that asks: what if you could walk through your gender identity? FWM will help Jarboe fabricate a “Wombderkommer,” a cabinet of the wonders that aims to be a space of healing interaction, provocation and performance for LGBTQ+ audiences and allies.  

Prior to launching the full-scale exhibition, the Rose team will spend two weeks in residence at Bethany Art Community to share the work to date and collaborate with the local community to gather feedback. We plan to mock up aspects of the installation, screen the films, and experiment with how to create a performative installation from this rich material. We are excited to return to Bethany to screen the films made on site and use this time to finish editing and honing the work. During this time, Jarboe will also host story circles with the local queer community to learn how we can create an installation that envelops and nourishes its audience.  


John Jarboe (she/her) is a director, singer, writer, producer and host serving you revolution, herstory, queer community making, and a whole lot of glitter. She is the founding Artistic Director of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the largest queer performance organization in Philadelphia, known for hosting a 12 hour International Festival of Cabaret called FEAST as well as making a mobile stage out of a 15 foot box truck called The Beardmobile. She has directed and written original work performed at La Mama ETC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Joe’s Pub, Opera Philadelphia, The Wilma Theater, Guggenheim’s Works & Process, and Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series. Jarboe has directed and helped create shows for Cookie Diorio, legendary Mezzo Stephanie Blythe, and for Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. As a writer and performer Jarboe has toured to Paris, Poland, New Zealand, and most recently received commissions and two residencies from Works & Process at The Guggenheim.  


Artist’s Social Media:
Instagram: @johnjarbeard / @beardedladiescabaret
Facebook: @johnjarbeard 

The photo credits: Alik Barsoumian or Christopher Ash

All films and photos were made with the support of Works and Process at The Guggenheim.  

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