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This essay was written by Jorge Glusberg, the Argentine curator and art critic, as the introduction to the catalogue for the I Bienal Internacional de Video-Arte [First International Biennial of Video Art] that was organized by the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellín in August 1986. The essay describes video art as a form of creative communication that will create “a new system” that will transcend the single-directional nature of video as a means of communication. Hinting at other ways to use the medium (which he describes as dynamic), Glusberg predicts that video will be used as a fundamental tool for education, though it will still possess the same alienating qualities as any consumer product. He thus encourages artists to free themselves from the standard structures of commercial video, and instead create works that foster a dialogue with the viewer.   


The I Bienal Internacional de Video-Arte [First International Biennial of Video Art] that was presented at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellín was the first major event devoted to this subject—one of the most important ever produced in Colombia. Twelve countries were represented and over two hundred works were exhibited, making it an historic international event that included submissions by such well-known artists as Nam June Paik, Marina Abramovic, and Ingo Gunther, among others.  


The Biennial also featured workshops designed to educate the public. There was one on experimental expression by the English video artist Jeremy Welsh (b. 1954); another on the nature of video art by the North American artist John Orentlicher (b. 1943); and a third by the German video artist Ulrike Rosenbach (b. 1943) on video art and its relationship to performance art. This strategy prompted a profound exploration of the medium which no doubt promoted its potential by walking viewers through the first steps in video installation. The goal was to transcend the two-dimensional limitations of the screen by making “video art a creative form of communication” just as Jorge Glusberg (1932–2012) predicted.    


Colombian video art was represented by José Alejandro Restrepo (b. 1959) with works such as Ostinato, La cuadratura del ojo [The Squaring of the Eye], Staccato, El nacimiento de Venus [The Birth of Venus], and Parque de Chapinero [Chapinero Park] that were produced in the early 1980s. The Frenchman Gilles Charalambos Bruyère (b. 1958) also represented Colombia with works jointly produced with Édgar Acevedo: Azar Byte Memory Sens [Chance Byte Memory Sens] (1984), No entiendo ni…… [I Don’t Understand ……] (1984), and Una palabra vale por 1000 imágenes [A Word Is Worth a 1000 Pictures] (1985). The French artist also gave a talk on “Video-arte en Colombia” [Video Art in Colombia] at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellín. The pioneer of video art in Colombia, Raúl Marroquín (b. 1948), showed a collection of the work he had produced in Holland, where he had been living since the mid-1970s.    


It should be noted that the expectations generated by the event, as well as its organization and exposure, helped to increase the production of video art in Colombia, which prompted suggestions to make the Biennial a permanent fixture (it actually enjoyed four editions). In 1992, however, a number of factors—including a loss of direction, confusion between video art and other types of advertising and institutional videos, and of course a drop in international submissions—contributed to its demise. Its legacy nonetheless lived on to inspire later events such as Flavio (Festival Latinoamericano de Video [Latin American Video Festival] 1988), I Festival Franco-Latinoamericano de Video [First Franco-Latin American Video Festival] (1992), and more recent events such as Artrónica (2003–6) and Experimenta Colombia [Colombia Experiments] (2005).


For more information on this subject, see [doc. no. 1130869 and doc. no. 1134742].

Jhon Arias Bonilla
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Dora Escobar, Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Colombia