Visiting Artist Lecture, Nao Bustamente, by Athena Brownson

Athena Brownson

Visiting Artist Lecture Review

“An Evening with Nao Bustamante”

Entering this lecture, I had never heard of Nao Bustamante, and had no clue what time of art she created. Sitting down I was not sure what to expect, but once Nao Bustamante began speaking I was immediately enthralled by her theatrical presence. She began her lecture by explaining to the audience that her becoming an artist was a mistake that was never meant to be. She sadly explained how she had always considered herself to be a fraud or an amateur, and not a professional artist. While she explained this it was clear through her performance that she was up to something, and that’s when she explained that what she was saying to the audience was actually a trick, and she was indeed hypnotizing us. The goal of her hypnosis was to create an open atmosphere where her viewers could feel confortable to ask questions whenever they came to mind.

            From this opening performance it was clear that Bustamante is a very successful performance, installation, and video artist. Bustamante uses humor as a means to relate to her audience, as many of her performances are outrageous while at the same time making one laugh hysterically.  Bustamante explained that throughout her lifetime as an artist she has always been interested in using her own body in her works. One of the first pieces she introduced us to was a performance/installation entitled “Hiding Body” in which she hid under a rug in the middle of a gallery for 45 minutes shouting comments at gallery-goers passing by. This was just one example of how she likes to incorporate her own body into her art, allowing her to really engage in the piece.

The next piece she showed us was a video performance she did on the Joan Rivers show in 1992. This piece titled “Rosa does Joan” involved Nao taking on a made up identity of an exhibitionist named Rosa who enjoyed letting others see her naked. This video had the entire audience cracking up, as Nao completely made up this identity and played it convincingly on live television. This performance truly showed the artists sense of humor, and how great of an actress she can be in her works. This piece along with other videos she has created, showed the audience that she really does use humor to help the audience relate to her sometimes outlandish performances. Nao also went on the Bravo network TV show “Next Great Artist” where her strategy was to create no art that she already knew she was good at. Nao wanted to try creating new forms of art that unfortunately turned out to be too strange for the judges, as she ended up getting kicked off the show. This experience brought Nao a huge amount of attention, both positive and negative from the viewers.

After experiencing so much hate from being on this reality TV show, Nao Bustamante decided she wanted to create a gown that would protect her from this incoming hate. She then decided to re-create the dresses worn by female soldiers, or Zapatistas, during the Mexican revolution. She re-created these classic dresses out of thick Kevlar which would be basically bulletproof, with the exception of some very large bullets. She thought of these dresses as “personal protection” that served as a memorial to the many women who died fighting for freedom in the Mexican revolution.

At the end of Nao Bustamante’s lecture, she snapped us out of being hypnotized and allowed us to go our separate ways. I think that the entire audience was thrilled with how fun of a presentation was, and enthralled by Bustamante’s hilarious and kind presence as an artist. After attending this lecture I will be sure to keep and eye out for more of Nao Busamante’s entertaining works in the future.

One Response

  1. I feel that you did a great job capturing the mood of her lecture. I was also there, and was impressed with her ability to tame a crowd, she had us hanging on her every word. I found her introductory speech about her and her work, to be like nothing I have ever heard before. This was very refreshing, compared to other lectures that can become very dry and predictable.

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