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These documents written by Dioscórides Pérez consist of two texts published in the catalogue Tránsito (2001). Both articles serve as a report on the performance La lección de anatomía (2000), presented by the writer himself, working with the Dédalus collective. The performance event, which was also called Tránsito, took place at the Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia. In the first text, Pérez brings to light the many visual, artistic, and philosophical references that inspired his work as far back as 1987, concluding with the final show of this performance piece. He also provides a step-by-step narrative of the actions carried out by him and each member of the Dédalus collective (eleven women and eight men) as the piece unfolds in the museum. The piece concludes with the revelation that the collective will be dissolved when the show is over. The second text, written in the first person, is a brief narrative sketch of the action in this piece. Both texts are accompanied by images of installation, performance, and the drawings Cartas desde el purgatorio, also referenced by Pérez in the first text.
This document is significant as a record of a performance art trend in Colombia under the strong influence of Eastern philosophies of a spiritualistic nature that call for rites, catharsis, and symbolism as essential elements underlying action art. Specifically, La lección de anatomía presented during the IV Bienal de Arte de Bogotá (2000) included characteristics such as invocation, sacrifice, silence, the cry, pleasure, and pain. These elements sought to generate a space that was mystical and spiritual as well as actions that evoked the representation of fantasies from the artist’s dreams for the viewer. They were also intended to show the paramount value of the fact of being alive in an action described by the artist himself, Dioscórides Pérez (b. 1950), as “self-healing.”
Pérez shows an awareness that although the action has a basic formal structure, its narrative is neither evident nor coherent to the visitors present. Since the sensory perception of the viewers is an indispensable element for its comprehension, a logical reading of the event ends up serving as a substitute for a spiritual perception in connection with the event. Among the references pointed out by the writer are his experience of living in Tibet and the influence of Renaissance Italian images and popular religious iconography. Drawing on these references, the artist developed a series of drawings entitled Cartas desde el purgatorio, which were given both theoretical and formal roles in the performance. An acknowledgment of the artist’s influences can also be found (though not specifically mentioned) in the description of the performance as an event that is polyphonic, simultaneous, and has multiple references. In spite of maintaining the essential connections between event, rite, and image, a careful reading of some of the actions in the description could contribute to the contemporary discussion about the impossibility of translation and the problems related to the clarity of language.
Dioscórides Pérez is a Colombian artist and professor who is a graduate of the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. He earned a master’s degree in printing techniques at the Universidad de Costa Rica (1982) on a scholarship granted by the Organization of American States (OAS). He earned another master’s degree in woodcut and traditional Chinese techniques from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (Republic of China, 1983) where he also studied tai chi and chi kung. From 1978 to the present (2009), Pérez has taught at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.