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    La fotografía como documento en el arte conceptual de Barranquilla
    Barranquilla, Colombia : Galería Banco Central Hipotecario, 1981
    Book/Pamphlet – Other

    Barrios, Álvaro, 1945-; Galería Banco Central Hipotecario (Barranquilla, Colombia)

This document is an informative flier about the exhibition La fotografía como documento en el arte conceptual de Barranquilla. Inviting the public to attend free of charge, this program references an exhibition to take place on January 16, 1981, in the Exhibition Hall at the Galería Banco Central Hipotecario [the gallery in that bank], sponsored by the bank. When the flier is completely opened up, revealing an A4 format (210 x 290 mm), we can see that it is designed in six sections per side. On the front, the information is organized by modules, including basic data on the event (title, date, and place) and information about the seven artists invited to participate next to the name of the photographer from which each artist took the photographic print. Also on the front is an introductory text written by the Colombian artist Álvaro Barrios (regarding photography as a medium in service to art) and finally, two photographs that are fragments of Álvaro Herazo’s work, Traveling (1979). The other side looks like a poster with the nine photographs that make up the work Declaración de amor a Jeff Perrone (1979), by Colombian artist Delfina Bernal, along with a short text explaining the work.


This document is significant because it specifically shows the production of a local event that raised the issue of the photographic print as an element in service to art, differentiating the photograph as a record from the photograph as potential artwork. The event sought to establish photography as a tool at the service of the contemporary artist and to visualize the way some regional artists would use it in a work. Encouraged by the effort to differentiate the work of traditional and Conceptual artists, the exhibition illustrated a change in the understanding of the work of an artist in the definition of an artist of that time. It made evident the function of the traditionalists (as experts in one technique) and artists of the idea (as subjects who bring an aesthetic to the technique). 


It is important to note that the questions raised in the text by Álvaro Barrios (b. 1945), as well as by the photographs included by the artist Álvaro Herazo (1942?88), and the reproduction of the work by Delfina Bernal, can be addressed directly. Therefore, an indefinite boundary is encountered between the photograph as a work and/or as a technique for recording a performance event of some kind. Two photographs from Herazo’s work Traveling, taken in London in 1979, show the artist striking a pose like a judicial suspect, photographed from straight ahead and in profile. In one of them, he is holding a sign with the letter A, and in the other, the letter I. The images are not identified as artwork or records, thereby establishing the paradoxical boundary between the fragments of a specific performance event and small photographs with their own reading. To an even greater degree, the reproduction of the work Declaración de amor a Jeff Perrone (1979) by Delfina Bernal, increases the possibility that a photographic record could become a work. In this specific case, turning to the theme of “copyright” in the art world, the artist integrates sarcasm as a critical switch. An exercise in sarcasm, this work consists of nine photographs of the artist sent to the American critic, Jeff Perrone. The artist is shown taking a bath, along with her declaration of love, repaying him for his failure to pay/in exchange for not having to pay publication fees (in the journal Art Forum) for some translations of the critic’s texts done by the artist.


Álvaro Barrios is a Colombian artist, architect, and art historian who is a graduate of the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Barranquilla and the Università degli Studi di Perugia (Italy). He has been a distinguished art professor and critic at several universities in Colombia, participating in major exhibitions on both the national and international circuits. Among the most important awards he has received is the gold medal at the Ninth Tokyo Biennial (1974); the grand prize at the I Trienal Latinoamericana de Grabado (1979); and the Luis Caballero Prize (1998) granted by the Galería Santa Fe in Bogotá.

Carlos Eduardo Monroy Guerrero
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Álvaro Barrios Vásquez, Barranquilla, Colombia