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  • VR / 360 Video
Nao Bustamante prototypes a new vision for feminist autonomy in her project BLOOM, an ongoing cross-disciplinary investigation centered around the design of the vaginal speculum and its use in the history of the pelvic examination.
  • Nao Bustamante

This Quills Fest presentation of Bloom, an ongoing cross-disciplinary investigation centered around the design of the vaginal speculum, is an excerpt from an experimental VR documentation of a live performance that took place at the Park Avenue Armory in September 2022, which will constitute a part of a Mixed Reality roller coaster experience currently in development.

Bustamante works to open dialogue about the vaginal speculum’s history and to workshop the most significant redesign of the tool since 1943, holding particular resonance in the wake of recent political attacks on the health of those undergoing pelvic examinations.

Joined by musician and performance artist Geo Wyex, interdisciplinary artist Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, and composer and reiki master Pamela Martínez, Bustamante dematerializes James Marion Sims—the so-called “father of American gynecology,” a moniker earned on the backs of experiments conducted on enslaved women—in a new performance that is part séance, part pageant to make way for a new era of examination of the device as well as its patriarchal inventors. Anthropomorphized speculum puppets take the stage to share their backgrounds usage, and the biographies of their patent holders, in a mise-en-scene of Bustamante’s object, video, and sound installations.

Bustamante developed the idea into an exhibition and performance at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas during her 2021 residency, using her unique style as well as dialogue with physicians and medical professionals to create her sculptures and models. The project will culminate in 2024, using Bustamante’s artistic process and design to create a new vaginal speculum available for use by doctors and nurses across the United States.

Nao Bustamante

Cory Allen
360 Cinematographer & 360 Film Post-production

Marcus Kuiland-Nazario
Interdisciplinary artist, performance curator and producer

Geo Wyex, Wendy Kline
Musician and performance artist

Pamela Martínez
Composer and Reiki Master

Tavia Nyong’o
Executive Producer, Park Avenue Armory

María Fernanda Snellings
Producer, Park Avenue Armory

Wednesday Derrico
Stage Manager

Lucille Vasquez
Public Programs Intern
Stage Manager

Jared leClaire
Slideshow/Video Editor

Chelsea Knight
Video Editor, “Gruesome History”

Illya Szilak
Creative Technologist

During the 2022 Quills Fest, a 2D video playthrough version of this project was available to all ticket holders.

Watch 2D Video Playthrough

Project Images

Eleanor Goldsmith performing


Nao Bustamante

Nao Bustamante

Nao Bustamante is a Los Angeles-based artist whose precarious work encompasses performance art, video installation, filmmaking, sculpture, and writing. Bustamante has presented in galleries, museums, universities, and underground sites around the world, including London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, the MoMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sundance International Film Festival/New Frontier, Outfest International Film Festival, El Museo del Barrio, First International Performance Biennial, Deformes in Santiago, Chile, and Kiasma Museum of Helsinki. Her 2020 VR film, “The Wooden People” presented at REDCAT in 2021 received producing grants from the Mike Kelley Foundation and National Performance Network. She appeared on Bravo’s “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.” She has received Anonymous Was a Woman (2001), New York Foundation for the Arts (2007), Lambent, and CMAS-Benson Latin American Collection Research (2013) fellowships. Awards include the Chase Legacy Award in Film and Makers Muse Award from the Kindle Foundation. Bustamante has served as Artist in Residence at UC Riverside and UC MEXUS Scholar in Residence at LA’s Vincent Price Art Museum. Education includes San Francisco Art Institute and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Honorary doctorate SFAI. Professor of Art, USC Roski School of Art and Design. Her work, Bloom, has been supported by a COLA (City of Los Angeles) fellowship, an Artpace Residency, and a USC Arts and Humanities award.