This text was written by Juan Loyola (1952–99) on a piece of cardboard—intended as a “fan”—that had been decorated with the colors of the Venezuelan flag. The mixed-media artist (drawing, painting, assemblage, performance, and video) often used the country’s flag as a vehicle for expression and protest. It was an essential element in his visual art language during the final years of his life, and he used it in defense of patriotic symbols and to express a form of nationalism that was often controversial. He also used performance as a form of criticism in places or at events where pomp and seriousness were de rigueur. The artist was arrested on occasion for what was considered his irreverent use of national icons.
He presented the “fan” to the spectators who happened to witness the performance he staged in front of the doors to the Caracas Law Courts (May 14, 1990) with seven students from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas “Cristóbal Rojas.” Dressed in white, to symbolize the stars on the Venezuelan flag, they ripped open bags of paint and spilled the national colors onto the ground. Then the students rolled in the paint while Loyola made an impassioned appeal for justice and dignity. The intervention sought to highlight the scandalous escape orchestrated by the ex-minister of transport and communications, Vinicio Carrera, who was free on parole owing to a writ of habeas corpus granted by the courts. He slipped out of the country while under indictment for corruption, and Loyola put his face on one side of the “fan.”
Part of this action—as well as some of Loyola’s other projects and interventions—can be seen in the video Asalto por Dignidad a los Tribunales de Justicia y a las Oficinas del Congreso Nacional de la República de Venezuela. This performance earned Loyola the gold medal from the city of Brussels, Belgium, and a special mention at the film and video festival in that city.