This article is important because it is one of the first to document, record, and criticize performance practices in the field of Colombian visual arts, viewing them as a specific medium in contemporary practices and not as isolated events in local artistic circles. Eduardo Serrano (b. 1939) provides a brief historical summary, explaining why performance became more established and more important in the early 1970s in Colombia, despite the fact that certain earlier events, such as Defienda su talento [Defend Your Talent] (1974) by Antonio Caro (b. 1950), were reviewed but not classified at the time as performance by either their producers or the art critics. This article also identifies the artists and institutions that were promoting experimental body art in those days, acknowledging the institutional space that performance art had traditionally occupied in Colombia.
It is of particular interest to note how Serrano describes where and when those events took place in order to provide a new reading of each piece in terms of its specific context. That is, he points out that the reading of each piece is influenced by its role as either a commercial practice (in the case of the Galería San Diego) or an academic exercise (an alternative space). In spite of the uneven nature of the subject, Serrano describes the practice as an artistic position that he sees as necessary, consistent, risky, and, above all, intellectually useful to the field of Colombian visual arts. He claims that each of the acts springs from a shared incisive critical spirit, but that they do not arise gratuitously in either context despite being intrinsically different. Attention should also be drawn to the detailed descriptions of the events that, together with the photographs that illustrate the text, contribute a clearer idea of the pieces and their individual contexts, all of which are essential to an understanding of the emergence of performance practices in Colombia.
Eduardo Serrano is a Colombian critic and curator; he holds degrees in anthropology and art history at New York University (NYU). He worked as general director of cultural affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the director of the television program Taller del Artista [The Artist’s Studio], and curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá for 20 years (1974–1994).
Re-vista de Arte y Arquitectura en Latinoamérica [Review of Art and Architecture in Latin America] was a trade periodical published in the city of Medellín in the 1970s. It was directed by the critic Alberto Sierra Maya, the curator at the Museo de Antioquia. Sierra Maya was founder-curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellin and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Banco de la República in Bogotá.