This document is the basis for the work Una cosa es una cosa (1990) for which María Teresa Hincapié (1956–2008) received widespread recognition, becoming a major Colombian artist of the nineties. The work was granted first prize at the XXXIII Salón Nacional de Artistas pursuant to a unanimous decision of the jury whose members were: Spanish sculptor Martín Chirino (born 1925), Venezuelan art critic María Elena Ramos, North American critic David Ross, and Colombian critic María Elvira Iriarte, and artist Miguel Ángel Rojas (born 1946). This was the first time a work in the performance genre was awarded a major prize in Colombia.
The most important concerns of this work are time and its circular nature, daily life, the feminine, the fragmentary, the ephemeral, and the essential, all of which are directly tied to the research and thought of video artist José Alejandro Restrepo (born 1959) and the experimental production of the Grupo de Teatro Acto Latino, with whom Hincapié worked closely. The structure of this text partakes of those concerns of Restrepo’s that exercised an influence on Hincapié’s art: it is similar to the texts written in preparation for Restrepo and Hincapié’s collaborative work Parquedades [Sparingness] (1987). That work, in which Restrepo first addresses French post-structuralist thought, makes use of acting techniques that revolve around the modification of daily life characteristic of the experimental theater of the Grupo de Teatro Acto Latino, with which Hincapié worked in the eighties.
In the performance Una cosa es una cosa, María Teresa Hincapié slowly placed the objects from her daily life in a space. She then picked them up, put them away, and reorganized them on the basis of random taxonomies, though always laying them out in a square spiral in reference to the circular nature of time. Una cosa es una cosa is the work that earned Hincapié recognition on the Colombian and international art scenes. Indeed, it was a watershed that paved the way for performance and experimental art in Colombia, while also playing a key role in expanding the vision of contemporary art from Colombia in the international art scene.