This text is important as the first and only document to provide a detailed critical account of each of the works presented at the Primer Festival Municipal de Performance y Acción Plástica (1997). The text captures the audience’s experience at the event and hence proved useful to producing the six subsequent editions of the Festival de Performance de Cali, the only performance event in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America. The event voiced a satirical criticism of art institutions as it repudiated the lack of a specific platform for the performance genre in Colombia during decades. The decision not to use curators, the informal nature of the venue, the inclusion of works by the event’s organizers, and the overarching interest in openness as evidenced by the sign put up at the entrance to the event bearing the words Museo Welcome!—which gave the festival its name—attest to its sarcastic and biting tone.
In this text, Juan Mejía explains his position as organizer, viewer, and participant in the festival. His concise comments on each of the performances prove him to be a critical yet indulgent viewer. While Mejía mentions the presence of cross-dressing, nudity, the absurd, and the scandalous, which are recurring themes in performance, he does not judge them. Instead, he deems them necessary on a formal and artistic level, though irrelevant to the value of the work. Mejía is more interested in the conviction, motivation, relationship to time and pacing, questioning, discourse, and collectivization of a feeling, rumor, and installation that these works put forth than in those recurring themes. He considers three elements to have a unique weight in the performance genre: execution, achievement, and gesture.
Mejía is a visual artist and professor at the Universidad de Los Andes and the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano. He is an advisor to the master’s program in visual arts at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia. He lives and works in Bogotá.