The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
“Feliza Bursztyn y el Arte en Latas de Nescafé” [Feliza Bursztyn and Art in Coffee Cans] is part article and part interview conducted by Enrique Santos Calderón. Serving as the editor of university news at El Tiempo in Bogotá in 1964, Santos deemed “the current trends in sculpture” disconcerting. However, he informs that it is necessary to understand them, “just as we must find a way to understand other artwork that is initially difficult to take in.” The writer continues his comments with a callout, asking the viewers to neither ignore nor repudiate the “concerns and ideas expressed in our time.” The interview is also focused on the materials and techniques used by Bursztyn in her sculptures.
Both the opinions of Enrique Santos Calderón (born 1945) and the interview conducted with Feliza Bursztyn (1933–1982) raised ideas related to the acceptance of the sculptor’s work in Colombia. Santos called upon his readers to study in depth the new art trends, which were starting to materialize and become more visible at that time (1964). One of the reasons for this was the explosion of abstract painting and the responses it evoked in the United States. The writer’s callout was significant in a country that tended to be conservative. Santos wanted the art-viewing public to construct an informed and wide-ranging opinion vis-à-vis the “darkness that tends to swirl around new forms of artistic expression.” In the introduction, he mentions the change in terms of the possibilities and possible materials appearing in sculpture. Sculptors no longer used only marble or bronze as in the past, rather they used whatever material they had at hand. That’s why Bursztyn responded to a question about her use of scrap metal by saying that she liked to give an aesthetic value to something that didn’t have one before. As an example of the mutation that is art, the sculptor says she was doing something similar to what Michelangelo did with the marble in his sculptures. She went on to define art as something that changes one thing into another, “the complete transformation of the material.” This was a definition that could have been given by a Greek or Renaissance artist for the word art or poíesis. The etymology of this Greek term is “to make”, a word that transmutes and confers new causes and effects on the world; poiesis is to reveal the beauty of an object by transforming it. She made sculptures of scrap metal and turned scraps (by addition) into figures that were perceived as different. Bursztyn says in the interview that when she made her sculptures, she had a “charted course” that included focusing her attention on “the circle, angle, the geometric figure.” In other words, she focused on those formal characteristics of the objects she assembled, without “projecting any messages—whether social or aesthetic.” All she wanted to do was make the beauty of the form visible.