For eleven years, Helena Producciones’ Festival de Performance de Cali played a key role in the cultural life of Cali, Colombia, a city with a notable shortage of resources and support networks for the arts. The festival provided a forum for both emerging and established international artists to create performances that were interactive and politically motivated, and defied traditional boundaries between artist and audience. Examples of past performances include Spanish artist Santiago Sierra’s installation of an enormous American flag on the wall of the Tertulia Museum; French artist Pierre Pinoncelli’s amputation of his pinkie finger in protest of the kidnapping of 2002 presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt; and a concert by Las Malas Amistades, a Casiotone art school band whose independently produced CDs have attained cult status among college students. Artists were invited to participate by invitation and through an open call for submissions. The five-day festival would also include workshops, street interventions, and talks held in various cultural centers throughout the city–from public plazas to modest artist-run spaces.
Helena Producciones is a non-profit, multidisciplinary collective that expands definitions of visual art by organizing events that promote local culture and community-initiated activism. The collective, which includes artists Wilson Díaz, Ana María Millán, Andrés Sandoval, Claudia Patricia Sarria, and Juan David Medina, often offers institutional critique through its work, as well as perspectives on local conditions, alternative to the routine social and economic conflict endemic in Colombia. The collective was also responsible for Loop, a semi-weekly television program that aired in Cali from 2000-2001 and mimicked the variety show format in order to report on the activities of local artists and punk bands.