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This document includes a number of texts by the organizers of the Segundo Festival de Arte de Vanguardia [Second Festival of Avant-Garde Art], presented in the city of Cali, Colombia from June 16 through July 1, 1966 by members of the nadaísta [Nothing-ist] movement. The folded document consists of six sections, the first of which is the cover, decorated with a drawing by the artist Pedro Alcántara Herrán. The second section advertises Testimonios, the exhibition of works by Carlos Granada, Augusto Rendón, and Pedro Alcántara, illustrated with a photograph and excerpts from the book La Violencia en Colombia [Violence in Colombia] (1962). The third section includes poems by Eduardo Escobar and a couple of intellectual opinions expressed by the writer Gonzalo Arango and the art critic Marta Traba. There is an autobiographical note by the poet Jota Mario Arbeláez in the fourth section. There are poems by Mario Rivero in the fifth section, and the final section announces the Festival’s audiovisual program: the 16 mm documentary about the Colombian guerrilla priest Camilo Torres (1929-1966) by the director Diego León Giraldo; the film La María by Enrique Grau, and short films by the director Luis Ernesto Arocha.
The Segundo Festival de Arte de Vanguardia [Second Festival of Avant-Garde Art] vaulted the nadaísta [Nothing-ist] group to prominence in Cali as a result of their rebellious and provocative attitude to the national art festivals traditionally held in Cali, which the group referred to as the “Official Festival.” This document is the only surviving trace of the event that has been found to date; it is currently held by the artist Pedro Alcántara Herrán (b. 1942).
Nadaísmo [Nothing-ism] was a literary movement whose scandalous tactics (sacrilege, blasphemy, and book burning) caused consternation in Colombian cultural circles, particularly in Cali. The group adopted a countercultural attitude and used humor and irreverence to break with artistic and literary tradition. The movement was founded by the poet Gonzalo Arango (1931- 1976) in the city of Medellín where he published his Manifiesto Nadaísta (1958). Arango was living in Cali when the artist Pedro Alcántara (b. 1942) returned from Europe in 1963. The two became friends and fellow nadaístas, which led to Alcántara’s involvement in the organization of the first avant-garde festivals.
The Festival Nacional de Arte de Cali [Cali’s National Art Festival] and the Festival de Arte de Vanguardia [Festival of Avant-Garde Art] represented the official and non-official positions in the city until the following decade. The non-official role of the Festival de Vanguardia also demonstrated, rather overwhelmingly, the young artists’ urgent desire to break with the establishment and present a different kind of art. Both cultural events are vividly remembered by the artists of the 1970s, who are referred to by Colombian art historians as “Cali’s urban generation.”
The national art festivals (the “Official Festivals”) enlivened Cali’s cultural life every year because they attracted national and international artists of many different kinds—most of whom were exponents of “high art”—who spent ten days at conferences, round table discussions, exhibitions, classical music concerts, and folklore, ballet, and theater shows. From 1961 to 1970 the Festival Nacional de Arte de Cali was presented a total of ten times, originally directed by the actors Fanny Mikey (1929-2008) and Pedro Martínez, both of whom were with the Teatro Experimental de Cali [Cali Experimental Theater] (TEC) and, subsequently, by Maritza Uribe de Urdinola (1923-2009), who founded the Museo de Arte Moderno, La Tertulia [La Tertulia Museum of Modern Art] in Cali.