Visiting Artist Lecture Review 1- Nao Bustamante by Nell Pollak

An Evening with Nao Bustamante

“Melted, Plotting out a Cross-Genre Narrative”

Nao Bustamante, a performance, video installation, visual, film, and writing artist, visited the University of Colorado at Boulder on the third of April as part of CU’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Her presentation was far from the norm of Visiting Artist Lectures I have seen in the past. In fact, her presentation was definitely the most unique from the ones I have been to. As a performance artist, she chose to present herself and her artwork in a performance-like manner.

Bustamante started her lecture in the darkness of the room with just the light of her computer spotlighting her. She started out by saying that she is somewhat of an amateur and said, “I wasn’t supposed to be an artist.” After saying a couple words about her unintentional start of an art career, Bustamante immediately told us she was going to hypnotize us. With no prior knowledge of this artist, quite honestly, I was little freaked out by this lady. It seemed like she was about to try and brainwash all of us or do some weird psychological experiment on us, but regardless I went along with Bustamante’s hypnosis. She explained to us how she likes to hypnotize her audience to create both a relaxed environment and to “find yourself through me”, as she said in her own words. In other words, Bustamante wanted us to understand her artwork in the way that we would understand it if we were physically her.

After “hypnotizing” the us, Bustamante began showing her different bodies of work. First, she showed us a piece where she curled up under a rug in the middle of a public place called “Under the Rug.” This a performance piece where she physically was in a space with the public but where her identity was hidden under this rug to where you could only see her sculpted body under it. She pretty much invited visitors to walk all over her, push her or even kick her.

Another piece that she showed us is called “Rosa does Joan.” This was my favorite. For this performance piece Bustamante actually got herself on the Joan Rivers Show in 1992 by pretending that she was someone that she is not. Nao switched her identity to identify as Rosa, an imaginary nut of a character that she invented. I thought this piece was incredibly creative and hilarious in the sense that she completely fooled all the followers and cast of the Joan Rivers Show.

What I thought was interesting about Nao Bustamante was her way of presenting us her work. She had a very strong voice and spoke to us the whole time as if she were reciting a story. I also was fascinated by how she used the human body in much of her work to portray her central theme of identity. She used her body in very inventive ways that I have never seen artists do before.  I found her heavy reliance on her body to complete her work as very unique and special to her specific style.

One Response

  1. I missed this lecture, and reading your essay makes me really sad I did! I typically think the visiting artist lectures can be a little boring to see, but her presentation sounds so unique and intriguing because it was more performance based. I though the essay was strong because you discussed the theme of identity throughout her work.

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