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The script of the sketch “El Salón dentro del Salón” [The Salon Within the Salon] was written during May and June 1977 by the Colombian journalist Aníbal Tobón, who was a member of the Grupo de Arte Experimental El Sindicato. In his sketch, Tobón critiques the dynamic behind the openings of exhibitions, and the strategies involved in handling the art market at the time. He also critiques the role of the media and their attitude to (and general lack of interest in) contemporary art. The original document was photographed in August 2008 (in the port of Barranquilla) and was in a very poor condition. Due to the coastal climate and the archival system employed, the document has deteriorated even more since then. As a result, the photographed text was transcribed so that it could be included in the ICAA Documents Project in a version that respects the typeface and layout of the original as far as possible.
In 1977, the Grupo de Arte Experimental El Sindicato [The Syndicate Experimental Art Group] performed “El Salón dentro del Salón” [The Salon Within the Salon] at the II Salón Regional de Artes Visuales [Second Regional Visual Arts Salon] in Barranquilla. The group’s project involved a small (2 x 3 meters) space installed within the exhibition hall, where they showed twenty two-dimensional and five three-dimensional works, including, as was their custom, a letter from the “guest artist” Álvaro Barrios (b. 1945). On the day the exhibition opened, the group performed the sketch “El Salón dentro del Salón.”
This group, El Sindicato, is thought to be one of the first groups to have performed a theatrical production as part of a visual arts presentation in Barranquilla. In those days, neither interdisciplinary works, nor physical performances were common in the visual arts. The members of the group who were art students at the time, met at the Universidad del Atlántico’s School of Fine Arts, where they were part of the theater group directed by Aníbal Tobón, who wrote the script that is reviewed here. Ten years after the group broke up, the actress María Teresa Hincapié (1954–2008) brought experimental theater to the local art scene and was considered the pioneer of performance art in Colombia. But historical research shows that there were others before her, such as El Sindicato, which had already introduced work of this nature some years earlier.
The sketch “El Salón dentro del Salón” was performed three times during the run of the exhibition. The Grupo de Arte Experimental El Sindicato was managed by the theater director and journalist Aníbal Tobón (b. 1947), and included the following artists: Efraín Arrieta (1942–2006), Ramiro Gómez (b. 1949), Carlos Restrepo, and Alberto del Castillo. The group was based in a working class neighborhood in Barranquilla from 1976 through 1978. For more information on this subject, see: “El Arte Conceptual se toma el Salón Nacional” [Conceptual Art at the National Salon], doc. no. 1134222 and “Conversación con Ramiro Gómez” [Conversation with Ramiro Gómez], doc. no. 1098159.