The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, Elsa Flores comments on the performances of a group of “action-language artists” gathered by the actor, Marco Antonio Ettedgui, who is also a performance artist. Together, they designed and presented their plans at the Galería de Arte Nacional (GAN) in Caracas, based on both traditional artwork and the movement inherent in the history of Venezuelan art. This group of performance artists participated in the exhibition Indagación de la imagen (GAN, 1980). Flores pays special attention to the presentations by Ettedgui, Carlos Zerpa, Yeni & Nan, Pedro Terán, Alfred Wenemoser, and Roberto Obregón. She limits her discussion of the remaining participants to a brief mention and concludes the article by pointing out the absence of artists important to this genre, such as Claudio Perna, Diego Barboza, and Luis Villamizar.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Argentinean Elsa Flores lived and worked in Venezuela as an art critic and educator; these were the years when Conceptual art and other unconventional art forms took hold in Venezuela. Therefore, the criticism published by Flores, often as news articles, recorded the first works and exhibitions of artists who would later become the standard-bearers of those innovative forms of expression. The event entitled Arte Bípedo, organized at the Galería de Arte Nacional (GAN) by Marco Antonio Ettedgui (1958–81), had an enormous impact on the community, stirring up strong opinions pro and con. Because Flores analyzed the designs of the participants from the specialized critical perspective of the visual arts, the article has documental value. Apart from the design created by Ettedgui himself (who was also a social commentator and actor), Flores only analyzes the works of the artists who best represent the visual arts (Carlos Zerpa, Yeni & Nan, Pedro Terán, Alfred Wenemoser, and Roberto Obregón). She also highlights the absence of important figures linked with art and photography (Claudio Perna, Diego Barboza, and Luis Villamizar). Her reason for only briefly mentioning the work of the other eight artists/actors include the limited time she had to see their designs as well as the limited development of those works. Subsequent to the major role played by Ettedgui in this event, he died a tragic, accidental death only months later, of a wound sustained in a 1981 performance. The article provides data on the history of the museum as a public institution, given that, in this instance, one of the most important institutions in Venezuela, GAN, opened its doors to performance art. This also leads Flores to consider both the institution and its heritage, in the light of the performance artwork, including a creative as well as critical focus on Venezuelan art through history. This art history is well represented in the vast collection of GAN and deployed in Indagación de la imagen (1980), an exhibition that went so far as to propose a revision of the periods/categories into which Venezuelan art is divided. This essay was reproduced in Convergencias (temas de arte actual) (Caracas: Galería de Arte Nacional/Monte Ávila, 1983), a collection of texts written by Elsa Flores between 1978 to 1982.