María Teresa Hincapié

COL (1956–2008).

Vitrina, 1989
Photographs 100 x 150 cm.
Single-channel video, color, no sound, 38’44’’

A pioneer of performance both in Colombia and the rest of Latin America, María Teresa Hincapié explores the most transformative and integral part of the human being—the part capable of connecting it with a transcendental, spiritual reality. Through an awareness of silence and levity, by involving herself in the most mundane actions and intimate experiences thereby unmasking the unity of movement, things, the body, and space, by taking a stance in favor of the perpetually mutating being, that which is renewal, and by exercising rigor in each and every one of her actions, she has made of her practice a genuine example of the balance thatcan be struck between everyday life and an austere, sacred sense of life. Vitrina (Vitrine) was first exhibited in a street display cabinet in the center of Bogota. It was basically an anonymous act without outside intermediaries—no television cameras, press, or other media—to document the urban intervention as art. For eight hours, or a full work day, the artist dedicated herself to cleaning her glass display. The glass that separated public and private spheres was transparent, both barrier and two-edged unit of protection. The artist’s movements were explicitly functional—soaping, rinsing, sweeping— and her intimate monologueswere communicated to the outside world through inscriptions on the glass, blood-red lipstick marks, graffiti from an alienated seduction as a manifesto of the tensions that psychologica social, and political violenceexert on the female identity.