Amelia Jones: “Queering Performance and Performing Queer: The Histrionic Performances of Nao Bustamante

Amelia Jones: “Queering Performance and Performing Queer: The Histrionic Performances of Nao Bustamante” from FIU Art + Art History Department on Vimeo, 2013.

About Nao Bustamante

Nao Bustamante is an internationally known American performance and video artist originally from California, now based in New York. Her work includes performance art, sculpture, installation and video. She has exhibited her works in Usa, England and Finland.In 2000 she received the GLBT Historical Society Arts Award. In 2001 she received the prestigious Anonymous Was a Woman fellowship and in 2007 named a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, as well as a Lambent Fellow. Currently, Bustamante holds the position of Associate Professor of New Media and Live Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA.

About Amelia Jones

“Amelia Jones practices a queer, anti-racist, feminist history and theory of twentieth and twenty-first century Euro-American visual arts, including performance, film, video,and installation—articulated in relation to increasingly global frameworks. Jones’s teaching presents canonical as well as marginal practices across twentieth and twenty-first century cultural practices, seeking to present contingent histories of art, performance, and visual culture and their discursive and theoretical frameworks.Jones’s courses integrate intellectual histories of various modes of critical thought,including those articulated through art practice and criticism, philosophy, and identity politics (among others).” – FIU Art + Art History Department

Amelia Jones is the author of Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts (Routledge, 2012). She is currently writing a book on queering performance. After the above talk she got an interesting question from a member of the audience regarding sexuality and queerness: “I hear the word, the Queering of Art, just kind of tossed around a lot lately and… I kind of have been thinking with that obviously for some kind of people being either being a sexual or gender identification. You know, how there seems to be this kind politics to it, when it like the queer artist is not necessarily queer or a non-queer artist queering art? How do you feel about the two? It seems to have turned a bit into a catch all phrase.”

Amelia Jones’ Answer: “That is an excelent question. And that is going to be the really hard part about this book, avoiding making anything that is kind of cool i.e. unexpected, QUEER. One thing that I would say is of the artist [Nao Bustamante’s] that I am looking at, I don’t even know what her sexual object choice is. I actually have no idea. So in that sense it has nothing to do with what person’s sexual practices are, but I find her approach to gender and sexuality totally queering, the same way… And again this is opening it up a little bit that criticism of making it a little bit to broad. But I do find it usefull to think how you can perform in a way to queer performances itself. If we think of performance as being on a TV show. She is trowing our understanding of that into questioning that is quite confusing, so I guess that I would try to be really specific about it, but not tie it to sexual practices, sexual orientation, or what ever. But it is a really good question and I want to be careful about it. Obviously I have read a lot of queer theory, but I want just to make sure that I don’t use it to lightly or too broadly, so that it looses its values. But all the artists that I am looking at are explicitly working on the sexual gendered body, which also in every case is racialized and classed, and so one of the things that I am really interested in is this artist making it possible to seperate out all these identifications; so it is quite different from what you know a lesbian and a feminist would have done in the 1975… she might have gotten up and talked about the lesbian experience; It is not at all what this is about. This is really a 1990s and 2000s kind of phenomenon, is building on feminist, queer and anti-racist theory, and is doing this work that is really confusing our expectations… in fact Heather Kassel(?) is one of the other artists, who’ll probably appear in the book (…) He is transgendered, and so that is like explicitedly transgendered, so that is a case, where I’ll really have to think about how that affects the boundaries of what I mean by queer.”