The first Council of Festive Devils to celebrate the Futures of Humanity

Between December 9th and 11th, 2019, along with the historian and researcher Paolo Vignolo from the National University of Colombia, and to the tune of the seismic movements that shook the depths of Colombian society, we unveiled the curtain on a playful conspiracy within the framework of the Official Academic Program of the XIV Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, in three settings and three acts. First, at Ágora Bogotá, the convention center, where, in the form of journalistic performance, we conducted an ethnography of the intergovernmental event-ritual and its participants, playfully transgressing the Committee’s protocol, observing it, and returning the ethnographic gaze; second, at the Santa Clara Museum of Bogotá, an institution housed in a former 17th-century baroque church, which, in a bold decolonial gesture, granted us access to a collection of more than three centuries of devotions to conduct a unique happening; and, finally, on the presidential street where the Casa de Nariño is located, the official residence and primary workplace of the President of Colombia, a location chosen to represent a collective gesture of the future.

A scenic animal hunting during the opening cocktail 14COM UNESCO, 2019. Photo: Sandro Bozzolo.

The ‘Concilio’ was an event of celebratory renewal and reappropriation, an immersive stage, and a happening of performances and guerrilla actions of supreme authenticity. Its main theme was the re-signification of Colombian architectural, iconographic, cultural, and historical heritage from a future perspective. Over one hundred and twenty people participated, including heritage guardians, artists, activists, scholars, cultural agents, technical teams, and media, all of whom were invited to conspire, immerse themselves, envision the future, and ‘stage’ it in dialogue with the current social context and the country’s colonial past.

The Guardian ‘Best photographs of the day’. Foto: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

In order to create new images and points of departure through re-signification and reinterpretation, a framework was designed from which to stage a dialogue between the baroque theater of the Counter-Reformation senses, the future images of the 17th and 18th centuries primarily constructed around the idea of evangelization and the expansion of the Spanish Empire (1492-1898), and the festive bodies of the participants, as well as the contemporary future images of the 21st century influenced by globalization, democratization, and growing environmental awareness. These images reflect a concern for building a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for all citizens. Interviews were conducted before and after the happening, and the entire process, as well as the variety of audiovisual future gestures and actions, were documented.