Frieze magazine on Bustamante
Frieze magazine on BustamanteDate posted: 2010-07-25 14:30:00
From Frieze Magazine
Performance art is enjoying an unusual visibility. Marina Abramović's MoMA retrospective made headlines for the duration of the show. Last month, the Bravo television network launched a reality show designed to single out 'the next great American artist'. The programme features Nao Bustamante, a well-established performance artist – who was eventually dismissed from the show for a mystifying installation and performance. Last month, in Los Angeles, the actor James Franco initiated a collaboration with the daytime melodrama General Hospital and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Franco claims his appearance on General Hospital playing a performance artist (in a role he created, and took up in November, 2009) is itself part of a performance project, the boundaries of which are still unclear. (The actor-cum-artist is currently enrolled as a graduate student in English at Yale.)
Bustamante describes her participation in the reality television show, The Work of Art: The Next Great American Artist, as a kind of 'social sculpture', exploring what happens when an artist like her 'penetrates the television bubble'. If we take Bustamante at her word, we should treat her appearance on the game show, and her participation in the publicity surrounding the program as marking the (expanding) boundaries of a performance. Using The Work of Art as a platform, Bustamante is creating a site-specific, interactive work located and unfolding in a media space over which she has no 'authorship', at least as the term is traditionally defined. Considering her participation in the contest as a performance yields a series of interesting insights that telescope out from the programme to the larger issue of what constitutes a performance-based text, and furthermore suggest new directions of performance and new media work, in which artists participate in a broadcast culture as agents of interference.