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This article by Juan David Medina, a member of the Helena Producciones art group, addresses the debate prompted by the III Festival de Performance [Third Festival of Performance Art] held in October 1999 at the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, a longtime fixture in the city of Cali. Medina discusses the contemporary role of the museum, approaching it from two different perspectives: the museum as a permanent home for certain objects, and the museum as a space that can be used for events of a more fleeting nature, such as performance art. The article reports on the events of October 29 when the Museo La Tertulia hosted activities that implied a dialogue with the traditional concept of a museum and involved spectators. Medina refers to lectures given by local and national theoreticians, curators, and artists, and describes the efforts of Helena Producciones which chose twenty-one performance pieces for this occasion. Some of the artist statements are included with the article, including those by Yuri Hernando Forero on the work Lavatorio [Washstand]; Giovanni Vargas on Puntos de contacto [Points of Contact]; and Rosemberg Sandoval on his work, Mugre [Grime].
This article by the artist and teacher Juan David Medina (b. 1975) about the III Festival de Performance [Third Festival of Performance Art] (Cali, October 1999) is important because it was written in response to controversial circumstances: the presentation of performance art at the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia. This fact substantially altered the nature of the festival as it was initially conceived by the group of Cali artists who called themselves Helena Producciones. The first two editions—I Festival Municipal de Performance y Acción Plástica [First Municipal Festival of Performance Art and Visual Action] (1997) and II Feria de Performance [Second Performance Art Fair] (1998)—were staged in alternative (therefore unofficial) spaces. But the third was presented at La Tertulia, the arbiter and traditional home of art in the city of Cali.
The third performance festival organized by Helena Producciones (a nonprofit artists’s association) sparked a controversy and prompted a debate between the group and the festival participants. Some members of the public and a few of the artists involved claimed that by “yielding” to official art spaces, the festival had betrayed some of its goals and objectives. As regards the works and the corresponding artists’ statements collected in Medina’s article, it should be noted that most of the participants were students and graduates of the Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes [Departmental Institute of Fine Arts] in Cali, in whose classrooms the event was conceived. The members of the Helena Producciones group met and organized their association at that very school. The performance artist Rosemberg Sandoval (b. 1959) was also a graduate of that institution.
Helena Producciones was formed in 1998; it included the artist and instructor Wilson Díaz (b. 1963) and a number of students and graduates of the Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes in Cali. The goal of the group was to produce artistic events in “spaces that were not usually used” for staging performance art. Members of the group currently (in 2010) include: Wilson Díaz, Ana María Millán (b. 1975), Andrés Sandoval (b. 1973), Claudia Patricia Sarria (b. 1975), Leonardo Herrera (b. 1977), and Juan David Medina. The Helena Producciones group is devoted to the arts, curatorial projects, and the organization and promotion of cultural events, such as performance art festivals. A total of seven festivals have been produced in Cali between 1997 and 2008.
Juan David Medina has a master’s degree in visual arts from the Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes [Departmental Institute of Fine Arts] in Cali. He has taught art history and performance art at the Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes, the Instituto Popular de Cultura [People’s Cultural Institute] (IPC), and the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente [Autonomous University of the West]. He is a coordinator for the Piqueteadero & Banquete [Picnicker and Banquet] Project that uses seminars and workshops to promote criticism, debate, and art production at the Instituto Popular de Cultura, an informal art institute for lower income residents of Cali.