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This article refers to the work of the video artist and TV/film producer, Rodrigo Castaño, shown at the IV Salón Atenas at the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá, in October 1978. Castaño’s work consists of three videos: Autorretrato (1978); Formas electrónicas experimentales (1978); and Flamenco (1978). Galaor Carbonell describes these videos as a sensitive exploration of in-depth questions about human nature. The critic is surprised to find himself talking this way about works created in the video medium. The Cuban critic, Carbonell, emphasizes the artistic value of the works and acknowledges contemporary expressive qualities in Castaño’s work. However, in the critic’s opinion, these works belong in the category of timeless fine art.
The Salón Atenas was an annual exhibition held by the Museo de Arte Moderno of Bogotá with the support of the Atenas ad agency. In its eight rounds (held between 1975 and 1982), it provided visibility to the work of young artists. Among those who showed their work in 1978 at the fourth annual were: Rafael Echeverry (b. 1952), Jorge Ortiz (b. 1949), Cristina Franco (b. 1949), Álvaro Acosta (b. 1948), and Sandra Isabel Llano (b. 1951). According to the research by the French video artist Gilles Charalambos (b. 1958), the fourth annual offered something special. This may have been the first time Colombian artists showed their work in an official event that required the artists to use video. At the time (1978), access to video was fairly restricted.
Rodrigo Castaño came from a family that worked in communications media; that is why he was so familiar with video and so versatile in his handling of this new medium. In the 1980s, he moved away from video art, although he continued his work with commercial video. He directed projects related to art such as the TV program “Historia del arte moderno contada desde Bogotá” (1983), with an introduction by Marta Traba (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1923–Mejorada del Campo, Madrid, Spain, 1983). After Traba’s death, Castaño produced a documentary in 1984 in homage to her. Subsequently, Castaño moved to Mexico, a country where he produced several made-for-television art projects.
The Cuban painter, sculptor, and art critic Galaor Carbonell (1938–92), who was invited to the XIII Bienal de São Paulo in 1976, wrote the article “Por los ambientes”, published in the first issue of the journal Arte en Colombia. In this article, one of the first on video art to appear in a Colombian publication, Carbonell moves from one to another of Castaño’s works, giving each its due. The article goes beyond the novelty of the medium, treating it as incidental and brushing aside the idea that it might reduce the importance of the visual artwork created. On the contrary, the artist’s experience gives him an up-to-date perspective that validates the use of new technologies in art.