Though the history of performance as art form is not very long in Colombia, many artists working in that medium have developed projects that reflect on contemporary reality on the basis of formulations that turn the body into “a territory” of expressive and critical potential in response to local issues.
Much of the press expressed displeasure when, in 1990, María Teresa Hincapié (1954–2008) was awarded a prize at the XXXIII Salón Nacional de Artistas for the performance Una cosa es una cosa. In her text, though, Iovino asserts that Hincapié’s work was fundamental to the growth of performance in Colombia. In another article, Carolina Ponce de León states, “There have been few examples of the spirit of the avant-garde over the course of history, and those examples have been heroic and isolated. The controversy surrounding the performance by María Teresa Hincapié awarded a prize at the last edition of the salon, even though the performance medium has been around for over twenty years, is telling.” (Ponce de León, Carolina. “La contemporaneidad como reto” [Contemporaneity as Challenge], El Tiempo newspaper, October 21, 1990). Ponce de León thus evidences that this sort of art was still not accepted by the public.
The artists and works discussed by María Iovino include María Evelia Marmolejo (born 1958) and her actions from 1981; the work presented by María Teresa Cano (born 1960) at the Salón Atenas in 1984 in which she reproduced a body in chocolate that the public could eat; the most representative works by María Teresa Hincapié (Una cosa es una cosa, Parquedades [Sparingness], Punto de fuga [Vanishing Point], Ondina, Vitrina [Display Cabinet], and others); the project Testigos de las ruinas [Witness to the Ruins] by the Mapa Teatro group; the work developed by Helena Producciones; and El circo pulgas [Flea Circus] by María Fernanda Cardoso (born 1963). All of these works make reference to current registers of what the body in its different states represents as material for art, and the way that it has been enmeshed in the chronic state of socio-political crisis in Colombia.