Here in Cali everything is almost ready. On this very day the 8th Festival de Performance de Cali starts, the latest project by Helena Producciones, recipient of the 2011 Visible Award. Two main exhibitions, eleven conferences and panels, and obviously over fourty official performances, interventions and actions happening in the time span of five hectic days, when 24 artists from Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Equador, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Venezuela, will take to the streets, the squares, and the art spaces of the third largest city of Colombia.
The spirit of the festival hasn’t changed over the years: five artists from Cali, busy with their own individual careers decided 14 years ago to open a call for actions and performative gestures that emphasize visual commentaries on urgent social issues. It started as a small local event and at its 8th edition it has become one of the most important events to date about the state of performing art in the geo-political context of South America. Through the festival Cali is transformed from the capital of salsa to the capital of performance art, opening up a space for dialogue among artists living and operating in similar contexts, where the festival is read as a platform for mutual exchange and empowerment.
A leading topic of this edition of the Festival, is to be recognized in the wish to establish new connections with the recent past of Colombia and its neglected artistic protagonists. A highlight is the retrospective exhibition on the work of Luis Angel Rengifo, titled La paradoja del realismo social al expresionismo comprometido, curated by Julian Dupont. The exhibition essay reads: “Luis Angel Rengifo accounts for the living testimonies of a society in conflict through his work, revealing those places and social groups (workers, peasants) that usually remain invisible. With Alipio Jaramillo, Carlos Correa, Hanne Gallo and later Augusto Rendón, Humberto Giangrandi, and Pedro Alcántara Herrán, Rengifo developed a new method of political aesthetics and representation. This curatorial project exhibits both his graphic productions in relation to personal items (a diary, bags and brushes, 16 mm film shot by the artist during his travels, and also landscape sketches).” Some works on show are being exhibited for the first time in thirty years due to family restrictions on the public showing of his works.
Parallel to that an amazing group of keynotes speakers will offer a theoretical backbone to the whole festival, addressing the legacy of the Colombian avant-garde theater from the 60s and 70s, retracing the origins of the festival as a receptacle where political issues and artistic practices could find a dialogical space. Among them: Patricia Ariza, poet and theater actress, founder of the Casa de la Cultura, today Teatro La Candelaria, with Santiago García; Juliana Díaz, independent researcher and curator, that will speak about the Festivales de Arte de Vanguardia Nadaista de Cali (in her research she gives special attention to the Festival in 1966, a politicized event because of the death of Camilo Torres); Adriana Mejía, independent researcher and curator, is adressing the phenomenon of El Nuevo Teatro (The New Theater) in the sixties and about some specific places: El Teatro Experimental de Cali and the Teatro La Candelaria de Bogotá. María Fernanda Arias, researcher, professor and cultural worker, will present her PhD dissertation about film and cinemas in Cali during the sixties from the point of view of the audience, including in her analysis the cinema-clubs of the workers unions. Finally, María Sol Barón Pino is going to talk about the history and work of El Taller 4 Rojo and Taller Causa Roja; she will also present her research about Clemencia Lucena, an artist who worked for the Movimiento Obrero Independiente Revolucionario (Revolutionary Independent Labour Movement).
The festival features many other things that we will be reporting to you on this very blog in the coming days, with daily updates to be followed on our Facebook page and our Twitter profile. Please keep an eye on these pages in these upcoming days and don’t forget that, thanks to the Prince Claus Fund, the whole Festival will be live streamed on the Helena Producciones’ website.
See you in the streets of Cali!