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 text, Colombian art critic José Hernán Aguilar provides a critique of photography in Colombia in the 1980s, discussing specifically the proposals of avant-garde photographers such as Becky Mayer, Beatriz Jaramillo, Jorge Ortiz, and Adolfo Bernal. Aguilar begins by providing historical and conceptual points of reference for the medium of photography and then goes on to identify and analyze how the four artists tackle the photographic image, meaning not only its materialization but also the relationship between the work and the viewer. Specifically, he addresses the semantic relationships generated by the photographic image due to its dual—documentary and creative (artistic-aesthetic)—nature.
Photographic and audiovisual language has been a longstanding interest of Colombian critic José Hernán Aguilar (born 1952), and the depth of his knowledge is evident in his criticism. His texts address works where themes and techniques and even disciplines intersect insofar as the narrative—whether fragmented or spliced together to form a whole—takes on multiple connotations. This allows individuals who observe or interact with the work to develop their own interpretations. Aguilar discusses the boldest formulations of the artists he analyzes, works that he believes effect transformations in both the configuration of the image and in the use of photography as a technical resource (from there comes the title of the text).
In the 1980s in Colombia, photography largely entailed experimental practices that ventured into new materials and formats, re-signifying the medium. This text by Hernán Aguilar, a major critic in a period of transition in the visual arts in Colombia, evidences a perception of art influenced by the avant-garde.
In the 1980s, painting was a privileged medium in Colombia, and hence it is interesting that Aguilar discusses work by Colombian photographers, not painters, among them Becky Mayer (born 1944), Beatriz Jaramillo (born 1955), Jorge Ortiz (born 1948), and Adolfo Bernal (born 1954), who had different perspectives of the photographer’s task. This is what allows Aguilar to speak of what he calls “the political elasticity of photography” due to “the ease with which the photographic image can be manipulated.”