Visiting Artist

Visiting Artist: Nao Bustamante

Nao Bustamante is a young artist from the Bay Area/ San Francisco who now teaches new media in upstate New York. Nao began the lecture with an emotional speech about how she feels that she arrived at being an artist by accident, by chance, that maybe she is not really an artists at all, but at the same time art is the only thing that makes any sense to her. After her speech she turned off the lights and “hypnotized” the audience. She told us to forget about our selves and our worries and told us to imagine ourselves as if we were her. Her goal was to create a more relaxed environment where people were comfortable to ask her anything, and although only a few people asked questions I think that she achieved her goal. While watching her films I felt comfortable laughing without judgment of the absurdity. By setting up this environment and treating the audience as equals she also projected her beliefs that there should be no hierarchy in art. Nao’s lecture was a performance from start to finish.

In Nao’s piece “Nao’s Under the Rug” she showed us that she considered herself a trickster and clearly had a sense of humor. In “Nao’s Under the Rug” she sat under a rug for about an hour and commented on the movment and actions of the audience around her. Although Nao doesn’t consider her art as a progressive timeline, but instead a collective body of work “Nao Under the Rug” was a great piece to show first.  In this piece she gave us a sense of her personality that corresponded to her body of work.

The trickster theme was continued when she showed us her performance on Joan Rivers show in a video segment called “Rosa does Joan.” Her goal of the show was to reach a larger audience (another reoccurring theme throughout Nao’s career as an artist). Nao created a made up character to perform on Joan’s show. Her character was Rosa, an exhibitionist who could squeeze her thighs together and have an orgasm on a public bus if someone was watching. As Joan asked her questions in front of a live audience she made up ridiculous stories of showing off her naked body in public- the audience, director of the show, and Joan all bought the act. I though it was amusing when she showed clips of her back stage taking off her wig and putting her Rosa act to rest.

Nao’s most shocking and certainly entertaining piece was her film of the attacking penis’s inspired by Jack Smith and Maria Martinez. The film was outrageous and entertaining. I loved that Nao did a live narration of the film in the auditorium, it added an unexpected element to the film and really made it a performance. As the film went on everyone around me was laughing, a reaction that I think Nao wanted and appreciated from the audience.

One Response

  1. Brief but beautiful and to the point. Thank you for your time and effort to see and describe this most unusual artist and her flair for the outrageous to spur a reaction from her audience. You took effort to describe the essence of the artist and narrated with objectivity and honesty.

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