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In this article, Camilo Vega describes the production of the television show Loop in Cali, with special editions from Bogotá, New York, London, and Paris. The magazine program was broadcast on what was called the cultural hour or cultural space of the Canal Universitario del Valle (2001) and at events such as the IX Bienal del Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (2006). A number of Colombian artists worked on the program: Wilson Díaz served as its director, as did Ana María Millán, who was also the show’s host; Ernesto Ordoñez and Camilo Vega were hosts and interviewers. Loop was aired in Cali for two seasons (2001 and 2002), each with eight programs. Each episode consisted of three sections: musical groups, guest artists, and audiovisual works. The sixteen programs were aired on Wednesdays from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sundays. In 2004, the entire program was re-aired. Post-production work is currently underway for re-editions of the special editions of Loop from Paris (2002), London (2005) and New York (2001).
This article is essential to understanding Helena Producciones’ role in generating new structures and spaces geared to providing more inclusive and less elitist access to art. The aim of the project was to go beyond the confines of art’s usual narrow sphere of specialists and artists in order to bring culture to a broader audience. A television program broadcast and supported by a public television station clearly illustrates the group’s concerns, as well as the tactics it used to generate viewers. The structure and administration of Loop attest to the vision underlying the calls for submissions to other events that the collective was involved in organizing, such as the Festival de Performance of Cali, and to the strategies that those events employed.
The television program provided the members of Helena Producciones with the opportunity to engage in performances and to act as directors, hosts, cameramen, etc. While performance was central to the group’s research and production, the collective in its entirety rarely undertook a public project of this sort. Indeed, the only similar project was the proposal put forth by Colombian artist Juan Mejía (b. 1966) for the Primera Feria Municipal de Performance (1997) [see doc. no. 1102643], where all the members of the collective were put on stage in an act that broke with the administrative logic of the organization. The roles in the production of Loop seemed to have been determined by the “performativeness” of each member of the collective, though that categorization did not yield a rigid power structure regulating the relationships between members of the collective, the directors of Loop or, for that matter, within Helena Producciones’ operations in general [see doc. no. 1099696].
Significantly, the three sections of Loop gave shape to a multiple and polyphonic cultural space. The music section presented Colombian bands which, though in keeping with Helena Producciones’ interest in performance, were understood as existing outside the sphere of the visual arts. In the “guest artist” section, artists were asked to intervene in the sets and/or editing of the program. Lastly, the “audiovisual works” section broadcast videos by emerging artists. Of all Helena Producciones’ projects, Loop was the one truest to the group’s ideals insofar as it directly altered the logics by which art is communicated and consumed. The negative attitude of the group—which declared that Loop was destined to failure—reveals the primary concern of a collective with an entrenched mistrust and suspicion of the legitimizing powers of the art world.
Cofounder of Helena Producciones, Ana María Millán currently (2009) lives and works in Berlin. She was awarded second prize at the Salon de Octubre granted by the Cali Chamber of Commerce. She has been an artist-in-residence in a number of programs and institutions including NGBK in Germany and Art Space in London.
For further information on the historical context in which Helena Producciones and Loop emerged, see doc. no. 1099696.