The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) presents STUFF, a new performance piece by Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 23, 24 & 25 at 8 p.m. at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland. STUFF is a grandiose performance banquet which explores Western culture’s fear and desire for food, satiation, nurturing and erotic pleasure and how this has shaped perceptions of Latin women. Tickets are $14 ($12 for PICA members) and can be purchased in advance by calling PICA at 503/242-1419.
As Latin women growing up in America, Fusco and Bustamante were acutely aware of Western attitudes and stereotypes surrounding their lives. Bustamante is the daughter of immigrant farm workers whose family was involved with the Chicano political struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. Fusco’s family emigrated from Cuba, a country that gained a reputation in the 1950s as an international whorehouse and that, once again, has reverted to sex tourism in response to its present economic crisis. A year ago, they decided to create a performance piece that dealt with Latin women, food and sex. Fusco traveled to Cuba to interview women in the once-again burgeoning sex industry there. Both women then journeyed to Chiapas, the center of indigenous cultural tourism in Mexico, and the site of the 1994 Zaptatista insurrection, where they spent several weeks in conversation with women and children whose livelihoods were linked to their daily contact with foreigners. The result is STUFF, a performance piece that is part new age ritual, part erotic infomericial, in which audience members are treated to a lavish meal, a host of exotic legends, an occasional rumba, and at least one Spanish lesson as part of a satirical look at relations between North and South.
Coco Fusco is a New York-based writer and interdisciplinary artist. She has lectured, performed, exhibited and curated programs throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, South Africa and Latin America. From 1989-1995, she collaborated with Guillermo Gomez-Peña on a variety of art projects, including The Year of the White Bear, a multi-media art and performance piece about the “discovery of America” which premiered at The Walker Art Center; and Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit… , a performance which was selected for the 1993 Whitney Biennial and the 1992 Edge Festival in Madrid and London. A Couple in a Cage, a video documentary of their performance piece of the same name, was selected for the 1993 New York Film Festival and was awarded the prize for Best Performance Documentary at the Atlanta Film Festival. Fusco has also written for The Village Voice, The Nation, Art in America, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and a number of national and international art journals. Her book, English is Broken Here, a collection of essays on art, media and cultural politics, was recently published by The New Press.
Nao Bustamante is a San Francisco-based performance artist, writer, lecturer and curator. A pioneer in performance art, Bustamante uses the Body as a source of image, narrative and emotion to communicate on a subconscious level, cracking open cultural stereotypes by embodying them. She has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America since 1985. Her solo works include America, the beautiful (1995), Playball (1993), The Frigid Bride (1991), and her best known piece, Indig/urrito (1992). She has also collaborated on a number of projects with such artists as Miguel Calderon in the Chain South, Chico MacMurtle in Triagram, and Tracy Rhoades in The Seventh Veil. Bustamante has been a guest lecturer at San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Art Institute, Cal Arts, UCLA, California College of Arts & Crafts, and the National Theatre School of Prague. Her writings have appeared in Revista Paralax Journal and On Our Backs. She also guest curated the exhibitions, Next Time Show for the Marin Headland’s Center for the Arts and el corazon me dio un salto for Galeria de la Raza.
STUFF was commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica; and the Portland Institute for Contemporary, Portland, OR. It premiered in the fall of 1996 at the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow, Scotland.
For more information, please call PICA at 503/242-1419.
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
a performance by Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante
EEE Jones (on video)…………….Adam Bresnick
STUFF is commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Highways Performance Space, Los Angles; and the Portland Institute for Contemporary, Portland, OR.
STUFF premiered in the fall of 1996 at the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow, Scotland.
A year ago, we decided to create a performance that dealt with Latin women, food and sex. We started from our own stories. Nao is from an immigrant farm worker family that was involved in the Chicano political struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. She grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a region that at one time produced more fruit and vegetables than any other in the world. Coco’s family is from Cuba, a country that gained a reputation in the 1950s as an international whorehouse, and which, in response to its present economic crisis, has reverted to sex tourism as a strategy of survival. In the course of writing STUFF, Coco traveled to Cuba to interview women in the burgeoning industry. Then we both went to Chiapas, the center of indigenous cultural tourism in Mexico, and the site of the 1994 Zapatista insurrection. We spent several weeks in conversation with women and children whose livelihoods are linked to their daily contact with foreigners.
STUFF is our look at the cultural myths that link Latin women and food to the erotic in the Western popular imagination. We weave our way through multi-lingual sex guides, fast food menus, bawdy border humor, and much more. In the course of the performance, we mingle with audience members, treating them to a meal, a host of rituals and exotic legends, an occasional rumba and at least one Spanish lesson as part of our satirical look at relations between North and South. Our spoof, however, is not without a serious side. Latin American literature is full of references to cannibalism — as European colonials’ fear of the indigenous “other” as a cannibal, as a trope for Europe and America’s ravaging of Latin America’s resources, and finally, as the symbolic revenge of the colonized who feed off the colonial. If food here serves as a metaphor for sex, then eating represents consumption in its crudest form. We are dealing with how cultural consumption in our current moment involves the trafficking of that which is most dear to us all — our identities, our myths, and our bodies. STUFF is our commentary on how globalization and its accompanying versions of “cultural tourism” are actually affecting women of color both in the third world, and in Europe and North America, where hundreds of thousands of Latin women are currently migrating to satisfy consumer desires for “a bit of the other.”
- Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante
Nao Bustamante is a performance artist pioneer who is originally from the San Jaoquin Valley in Central California. She has been living and developing her work for the past eleven years out of San Francisco’s Mission District. In 1995, her America, the beautiful premiered at the improvisational festival, Engaging the Imagination and was also performed at Theatre Artaud; San Francisco Art Institute; as a part of the Post-Colonial California Exhibition at San Francisco State University; as part of Mirror, Mirror at California College of Arts and Crafts; in conjunction with Terreno Peligroso/Danger Zone: A Mexico/U.S. Performance Exchange, which took place at UCLA and X-Teresa in Mexico City; and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. In 1994, Nao was busy with her collaborative work, performing an Asian tour with Osseus Labyrint’s Omphalso Epos at the Burst the Spirit Festival in Taipei, Taiwan and the Fringe Festival in Hong Kong, and was featured in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts opening festivities. Nao has also collaborated with Miguel Calderon on the Chain South, the initial phase of which was performed at The Lab in San Francisco. In 1993, Nao brought the house down with Patriarchy Blues at Theatre Artaud and the Victoria Theater. She also brought out Playball as part of the Women’s Art Project at the Women’s Building in Los Angeles and Highways in Santa Monica. Then there was the guest appearance on The Joan Rivers Show, which culminated in the video/performance Rosa does Joan, at Artist Television Access. That year also saw collaborations with two of San Francisco’s more astonishing artists: Triagram with Chico MacMurtle and The Seventh Veil with Tracy Rhoades, both at Theatre Artaud. In 1991, she premiered her huge work, The Frigid Bride, at the Asian American Theatre; Pizen Arts and Clarinksy Cathedral of Bratislava, both in the Czech Republic; Kunsthaus Taheles in Berlin; and Los Talleres in Mexico City.
In addition to performance, Nao has guest curated the Next Time Show for the Marin Headland’s Center for the Arts and el corazon me dio un salto for Galeria de la Raza. She has been a guest lecturer/presenter at San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Art Institute, Cal Arts, UCLA, California College of Arts and Crafts, and the National Theatre School of Prague. Her writings have been published in Revista Paralax Journal (1993) and On Our Backs (1995). She has also received numerous awards including Sound Lab Residency at The Lab; Indigenous Scribe Workshop Scholarship with Cherrie Moraga; Dorothy Allison’s Women Writing Workshop Scholarship; New Langton Arts Individual Grant; and Zellerbach Individual Grant. She also serves on the Board for New Langon Arts.
Coco Fusco is a New York-based writer and interdisciplinary artist. She has performed, published, lectured and curated throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Latin America and South Africa. Her most recent work includes STUFF, a performance collaboration with San Francisco-based artist Nao Bustamante, which premiered in the fall of 1996 at the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow; Better Yet When Dead, a recently completed solo performance installation which will premiere at YYZ in Toronto in 1997; and Corpus Delecti, a retrospective of Latin American performance art which she organized for London’s Institute for Contemporary Art which took place in November, 1996. Her latest video project Pochonovela, a parody of Latin American soap operas, received an Honorable Mention at the 1996 Cinefestival in San Antonio and was recently broadcast on KCET (Los Angeles). Her collection of essays on art, media and cultural politics, entitled English is Broken Here, was published in 1995 by The New Press.
Between 1989 and 1995, Fusco created a series of collaborative works with Mexican artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña. They include Norte: Sur, an interdisciplinary arts project involving installation, multi-media, audio art and performance, which was presented at San Francisco’s Mexican Museum as part of the Festival 2000; La Chavela Realty Co., a complementary performance to Gómez-Peña’s 1991 performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival; 1992: The Year of the White Bear, about the so-called “Discovery of America” which premiered at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Mexarcane International, a performance designed for shopping malls, which premiered at the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow. The Couple in the Cage, (1993) a documentary of their caged performances, aired on KCET and WGBH (Boston). It was also selected for the 1993 New York Film Festival and was named Best Performance Documentary at the Atlanta Film & Video Festival. Fusco and Gómez-Peña’s work was also selected for the 1992 Sydney Biennale, the 1993 Whitney Biennial, and the 1995 London International Theatre Festival. Their collaborative radio pieces have been aired on National Public Radio through the Crossroads and The Territory of Art series.
Fusco’s writings have appeared in such publications as The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Nation, Art in America, Afterimage, Frieze, Screen and Third Text (Britain), and La Jornada (Mexico). She has also curated numerous international media exhibitions, including Young, British and Black: The Works of Sankofa and Black Audio Film Collective (1988); Internal Exile: New Films and Videos from Chile (1990); The Hybrid State Film Series (1991) and The Robert Flaherty Seminar (1991). \
Tamale: corn pie wrapped in corn husks. A staple of many indigenous American diets.
Cuxtamali: Pre-Columbian goddess who invented the tamale recipe
Orale: Yeah, OK.
Jefito: Big Daddy
Gringo: White American
Mulata: woman of African and European descent
Mestizo: people of mixed indigenous and European descent
miliciana: female milita member
guerrillera: female guerrilla fighter
machos: men suffering from delusions of grandeur
morena: dark-skinned woman
moño: Cuban dance step involving repeated hip gyration