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.
In this text, Colombian journalist Beatriz de Vieco describes the conceptual works by Bernardo Salcedo featured in the November 1970 exhibition at the Sala Vásquez Ceballos of the National Library of Colombia in Bogotá. According to de Vieco, the “sculpture” that received an award at the Bienal de Coltejer in Medellín that year was especially outstanding. Along with the description of the works, de Vieco explains their connection to what she calls the boldest strain of the avant-garde. She discusses the Duchampian origins of the work, and the fact that it privileges the concept over the subject matter, and even over the material. In the photograph that accompanies the text, Salcedo appears next to his “sculpture,” Hectárea de heno [Hectare of Hay], which is dispersed on the gallery floor. According to the text, on the night of the opening there was a happening in which a number of young people improvised a dance around the piece.
This text, and the image that accompanies it, are among the few archival materials available for consultation on what could be considered the first textual work by Bernardo Salcedo (1939–2007). The “sculpture” that Beatriz de Vieco discusses is Héctarea de Heno (1970), a key work in Salcedo’s career and in the history of art in Colombia, and one of the first Colombian installation pieces. A free interpretation of this work, which was first exhibited at the Bienal de Coltejer (Medellín, 1970) where it was awarded the bolsa viajera [traveling case] prize, was produced for the Sala Vásquez Ceballos. On that second occasion, the 500 numbered polyethylene bags full of hay that had been piled up at the Bienal de Coltejer were scattered over the floor of the exhibition space. The smell of the hay thus became an important and evocative aspect of the piece. Because the show was geared to children, its layout was festive; in the case of this work, children could play with the bags. Furthermore, as is evident in the photograph, the paintings were hung lower than usual to accommodate the perspective of a child. In this exhibition, a number of little known works by Bernardo Salcedo were exhibited for the first time, including the series Planas y Castigos [Writing Lines and Punishments] and Sumas, Restas y Multiplicaciones [Addition, Subtraction, and Multiplication] (1970). Similarly, the show featured exercises that the artist would never show again, like his sketches for boxes to be constructed, an exchange of telegraphed comments on a work of art, and finally, newspaper clippings that the artist “incompleted” in order to highlight certain tendencies and fixations of the press. While this may only be a newspaper article, it shows how novel a work of this sort was on the Colombian art scene, as well as the beginnings of legitimacy proffered by certain statements made by de Vieco, like “together, the works evidently constitute a show of Conceptual art, which is now the cutting edge of art in the civilized world.”