Jiménez, Carlos. "Diálogo en Madrid ." Diario El País (Cali, Colombia), August 2, 2002.
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In this text, Carlos Jiménez, a Colombian journalist who lives in Spain, recounts a chance encounter in Madrid with Spanish artist Santiago Sierra a few days after he took part in the fifth Festival de Performance de Cali (2002), held at the Museo La Tertulia in Cali. The text comments on the efforts of Helena Producciones to produce an event of international importance with participants from around the world. The conversation with Sierra reveals that he was invited to participate in the festival at the suggestion of Colombian artist Rosemberg Sandoval. Sierra describes his perception of the atmosphere surrounding the fifth festival, as well as the political situation in Colombia as a whole. Despite the opposition of Antonio Caro and other artists, Sierra gave a lecture on his work while in Cali. Sierra’s piece for the festival consisted of hanging a flag of the United States over the façade of the Museo La Tertulia; at Sierra’s request, the flag had been made by the official tailor of Cali’s Batallón Militar Pichincha.
This text emphasizes the importance of the collective Helena Producciones to invigorating and supporting the Colombian art scene, specifically by making the Festival de Performance de Cali a recurring event of longstanding regional importance. Due to the collective’s involvement, international guests such as the Madrid artist Santiago Sierra (b. 1966), Mexican artist Pancho López (b. 1972), and French artist Piero Pinoncelli (b. 1929) have participated in the festival. The text also addresses the overall atmosphere at the fifth edition of the event, as well as the political and artistic motivations that led Sierra to develop a project for the public space of the city in the context of the festival.
Sierra’s words in this text voice harsh criticism of the artistic and sociopolitical situation in Colombia due to a combination of factors: the marked social inequalities and the conflicts they bring, impending elections, and the then recent kidnapping of presidential candidate Ingrid Betacourt (b. 1961) by FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias]. In this context, Sierra expresses his preference for less bloody alternatives as he compares his work to French artist Pinoncelli’s Un Dedo para Ingrid [A Finger for Ingrid] in which the artist amputated one of his fingers to demand freedom for the presidential candidate. Sierra states “I think enough blood has been shed in your country,” thus expressing his view that Pinoncelli’s work and Colombian art in general should find more intelligent and less flashy ways to address politics and its often extreme situations. In Sierra’s work, the hanging of the flag of the United States, and its subsequent tearing and burning by the festival’s attendants, demonstrates a political stance and sensibility as great as the other performances in the festival, but with nuances that waver between paying homage to and debasing a symbol, which in this case was the American flag. The attitude of those attending the festival differed from that of the directors of the museum, who were offended by the burning of the flag.
Carlos Jiménez (b. 1947) studied architecture at the Universidad del Valle. He was awarded a master’s degree in theory, and the history of art and architecture from the Universidad Nacional of Colombia. An art critic, he has been a contributor to Spanish weeklies Cambio l6, Tiempo, El Europeo, as well as the newspapers El Sol and El Mundo. He currently writes for ArtNexus, Third Text, and Lápiz. He has a weekly column in the Cali newspaper, El País. His books include Extraños en el paraíso: ojeadas al arte de los ochenta and Arquitectura, subdesarrollo y revolución, a product of an extensive research project in association with Emilio Pradilla.