In the text “Mapateatro: estados de conciencia”—first published in the Bogotá-based newspaper El Tiempo on August 18, 1990—art critic and curator of contemporary Latin American art Carolina Ponce de León (b. 1957) questions the formalism of Colombian art; she considers the work of the Mapa Teatro collective pertinent to a discussion of artistic experimentation in Colombia. Mapa Teatro’s approach to theatrical production and staging make use of aesthetic mechanisms unusual in Colombian art; in the late eighties, this approach served to further debate on painting and sculpture. According to De León’s analysis, Mapa Teatro has a “provocative” stance in relation to the conditions surrounding contemporary art as well as to the fundamental elements of visual language.
The Mapa Teatro collective performed the experimental work De Mortibus: Réquiem para Beckett (1990) at the Teatro Camarín del Carmen in Bogotá. The piece consisted of a reflection in performance on the dialogues that the collective’s directors Rolf Abderhalden (b. 1956) and Heidi Abderhalden (b. 1962) had had with Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) before his death. The work’s overall approach was simple, with an emphasis on short dialogues and sound design. By means of this piece, as well as Casa Tomada [Occupied House] (1987), Mapa Teatro—which was founded in 1984—became a major presence on the Colombian experimental art scene. The main interest of the group is to conceive of space and color as an artistic installation; the actors’ intervention entails processes of performance; the use of photography is highly pictorial. Furthermore, the element of sound in Mapa Teatro’s work is so central that at times it replaces dialogue.
Since the mid-nineties, Rolf Aberderhalden has participated in nationwide artistic events of great importance to the Bogotá art scene. He studied art therapy at the École d’Hautes Études Sociaux et Pédagogiques in Lausanne, Switzerland, and did postgraduate work in theater at Jacques Lecoq’s École Internationale de Théâtre in Paris. In 1997, Aberderhald—in conjunction with Colombian artists Clemencia Echeverri (b. 1950) and Trixi Alina (b. 1950)—exhibited the work Camino [Road] at the Galería Espacio Vacío in the context of the creative and research project “La mirada expuesta.” Along with Dormitorio [Bedroom] (1998) and Y lo demás es silencio [And the Rest is Silence] (1999), Camino (1997-1998) forms a triptych that addresses the three states experienced by the individual: childhood, adulthood, and old age. Domitorio was awarded first prize at the VI Bienal de Arte of Bogotá (1998) held at the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá. A more recent work entitled Sanatorio de la Capilla de Indios [Sanatorium of the Indians’ Chapel] took part in the XL Salón Nacional de Artistas (2006).