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    Arte a flor de piel : debate/ reflexiones sobre el "performance"
    El Tiempo (Bogotá, Colombia). --- May. 18, 2002
    Newspaper article – notes
    El Tiempo (Bogotá, Colombia). "Arte a flor de piel: Debate/ Reflexiones sobre el "Performance." May 18, 2002.

The article “Arte a flor de piel” was published in the “Culture” section of the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo on May 18, 2001, on the occasion of the opening of the fourth Festival de Performance de Cali at the Museo La Tertulia on May 20. The article, whose caption reads “Reflexiones sobre el ‘Performance,’” briefly describes the works El canto del deseo encantado que va a dejar su calma [The Song of Enchanted Desire that Will Find Peace] by Guillermo Marín and La indiferencia [Indifference] by Fernando Pertuz; the performance genre is essential to the work of both Marín and Pertuz. On the basis of these descriptions, as well as statements on performance practices by María Teresa Hincapié and Fernando Uhía, both of who are Colombian, and by Manuel Romero, who is Mexican, the article provides an overview of how the performance genre is perceived on the Colombian art scene. By addressing the conceptual and formal differences between the artists mentioned, the text provides a complex vision of the medium. It places emphasis on the impossibility of arriving at an univocal definition of performance and its practices while also discussing the achievements of some Colombian artists working in that medium. The article lists the names of the artists participating in the 4th Festival de Performance, and contains photographs of works by Romero, Hincapié, and Mariana Dicker.


This text acknowledges the fact that artists working in performance in Colombia approach the medium from a number of different theoretical positions. This in turn has an impact on their work and its execution, as well as their understanding of the performance practice. The article is educational insofar as it attempts to explain performance—which is considered multifaceted and impossible to grasp as a whole—to a non-specialized audience. Performance is therefore envisioned as a medium in a constant state of reconstruction depending on the line of research and concerns of each artist. 


The text correctly states that performance entails visual work with the elements of space, the body, and time. On the basis of a description of the work El canto del deseo encantado que va a dejar su calma by Guillermo Marín (b. 1970), it highlights the sculptural and formal aspects of performance, as well as its affinity with installation. According to the text, the performance genre has become increasingly important to the Colombian art scene since the nineties, even as it encompasses somewhat conflicting tendencies and strains. Indeed, the text suggests the existence of two strains of performance: one exemplified by artists like María Teresa Hincapié (1954–2008) that envisions performance as a mystical or spiritual expression for contemplation; and a second coprophagic tendency illustrated by works like La indiferencia by Fernando Pertuz (b. 1968) in which the artist eats and drinks his own excrement. This second tendency “borders on spectacle” as it explores the limits of the human condition. The article, however, fails to mention important components of the performance genre like criticism, politics, and humor, all of which could contribute to readings of performances by expanding the two categories defined in the text or by building a more comprehensive vision of art as a whole, where despite differences, a common ground is pursued.


While the light tone of this article is typical of writing on contemporary art in the mass media in Colombia, the educational bent of the article attempts to expand the audience of art events in the country. The text cites the difference established by Mexican artist Manuel Romero between the performer and the actor: Romero affirms that performers are themselves works of art, and living expressions put on public display beyond the confines of a stage.

Carlos Eduardo Monroy Guerrero
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia.