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This flier by artist Antonio Caro is the invitation to the informal lecture presenting the Proyecto Quinientos [Five Hundred Project] in the context of the XXXI Salón Nacional de Artistas Colombianos. The event took place at the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango in Bogotá on February 17, 1988. The invitation was printed in two inks (coffee and green) on newspaper-quality paper by the Taller Arte Dos Gráfico.


On Wednesday, October 14, 1987, Antonio Caro Lopera (born 1950) launched Proyecto Quinientos in the auditorium of the Biblioteca Pública Piloto in Medellín. That work consisted of a series of informal lectures that the artist delivered over the course of five years. The two underlying concerns of the lectures, which addressed issues of identity and the origin of the American man, were the permanence of territory and the persistence of indigenous races. 


The context of Proyecto Quinientos was the commemoration of the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, an anniversary which gave rise to debates on American identity. The government-sponsored celebration placed emphasis on Christopher Columbus’s discovery in 1492, whereas others argued that Columbus’s arrival marked the beginning of a European invasion of American culture and the imposition of a new sociopolitical and religious regime. Some asserted that America had not been discovered but rather “invented” by Europe as a land where Thomas More’s utopia could be put into effect. The idea of the “invention of America” was formulated by Mexican historian Edmundo O’Gorman in 1958. Unlike the government-sponsored celebrations, Caro Lopera’s Proyecto Quinientos entailed the invitation to perform a series of symbolic acts (such as learning a native language) that were geared to celebrating an individual form of expression.  


Concerned that his work would not yield any tangible object, Caro Lopera produced Hágalo usted mismo [Do It Yourself]: three ceramic seals inspired by the seals used by different pre-Columbian tribes; the seals made use of the numbers 5 0 0 that appear on the flier-invitation. Hágalo usted mismo was included in the exhibition Ante América organized by the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango in Bogotá in 1992. Centered on the question of “Latin American identity,”  that show included twenty-one foreign artists and five artists from Colombia: María Teresa Hincapié (1954–2008), María Fernanda Cardoso (born 1963), Beatriz González (born 1938), Doris Salcedo (born 1958), and José Antonio Suárez (born 1955).

Taller Historia Crítica del Arte (UN): María Clara Cortés
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Antonio José Lopera, Bogotá, Colombia