OCDChinatown is pleased to present Brown Disco, the latest solo show by iconic Chicana artist Nao Bustamante, the doyenne of precarious aesthetics. Cutting through the noise and chatter with a steady pulsing beacon, Brown Disco will take up a stall on the second floor of a Chinatown shopping mall.
Meet cute under the gentle pulsating glow of the uncanny brown disco ball that Bustamante has constructed especially for this space. Escape your professional obligations and post-covid anxiety to slow your heart rate in Bustamante’s laid-back LA answer to the Bushwick day rave.
San Diego-based queer Latinx critic Roy Pérez describes brownness in these terms:
“brown is not (just) something you are, ontologically, but something you feel and sense, phenomenologically, through proximity — nearness and attunement — to others.”
In the sense that Pérez notes here, Nao Bustamante has long been one of our preeminent theorists and practitioners of brownness, seen here as the uncanny and sometimes awkward alchemy that happens when bodies collide.
Born in the central farmlands of California, Bustamante came of artistic age in the San Francisco underground of the 1990s, with performances that formed groundbreaking explorations of the complexities of the Chicanx experience.
Recurrent muse to the late Cuban-American art theorist José Esteban Muñoz, her work in performance art, film and installation, and Situationist media-jamming continually pushed boundaries and challenged conventions. Recent appearances at Artpace San Antonio and the Park Avenue Armory on the UES announced Bustamante’s turn towards social sculpture as a vehicle for sounding a trans queer feminist alarum against the renewed patriarchal assault on femme bodies. By encouraging a city that never sleeps to slow down and become proximate and entangled to each other, Brown Disco calls us together at a time of unprecedented assault on our precarity. Brown Disco is a soft memorial, emphasizing the care and comfort we find in the club.
But will I know anyone there? Is it a vibe? Brown Disco holds no answers to any of these questions, any more than does the disco ball hanging in that fabled grungy punk rock club in Silverlake. By enlarging the disco ball to almost fill a room, Bustamante crowds out commerce. Instead, she invites the spectator to defamiliarize the optical trick by which a disco ball disperses light into fantasy. At once light source and spaceship, this exuberant sculpture interposes itself into the art historical debate over minimalism’s “theatricality.”
As interactive sculpture, Brown Disco is an alternative to the consumer-pleasing disassociations of the “experience economy.” In the brown commons, you are not served or waited upon. In the brown commons, friendship is a way of life. Loyalty means something here, but so does laughter, play, and the chance to meet someone new. So, if Spring is busting out all over your world, come to this pop-up aesthetic homage to all tomorrow’s parties.
For Brown Disco’s opening reception, Bustamante invites you to a slo-mo dance party.
Special thanks to Tavia Nyong'o and Paula Pino.