[17] Metafiesta: ‘La fiesta’ that talks about (and laughs at) itself


Since 2007, the work group “Game, Fiesta, and Power”, has participated in the “Encuentros” with workgroups and other initiatives. For the next “Encuentro”, dedicated to “The World Inside Out: Humor, Noise, and Performance” we are going to focus in the concept of ‘Metafiesta’, a way to articulate the festive experience with an ironic-theoretical reflection. The main focus of our workgroup proposal appeared after adopting some inspirational ideas proposed by cultural anthropologist Victor Turner (From Ritual to Theatre, 1982), performance theorist and theater director Richard Schechner (The Future of Ritual, 1993, Environmental Theater, 1994), anthropologist Manuel Delgado (Fiesta and Mutiny, Fiesta and Public Space, 2004), Esherick & Wasserstrom (Acting out Democracy, 1990), the plays of Mapa Teatro (Los Santos Inocentes, 2011 y Los Incontados 2015), the performances of the colective El teatro de los Sentidos (El Hilo de Ariadna, 1990; La memoria del vino, 2015), The Performance Group (1967), Hans Thies Lehmann book Postdramatic Theater, and Allan Kaprow’s happenings; which integrated the elements of environment, constructed sections, time, space, and people, into a total art object. The practices of these writers have discovered what its interesting is not only the explicit intention of the actors/agents in relation with a certain institutional-political-societal-economic festive context, but also the reality which they create -as social clots or molecular masses- with their actions, participating, intervening in the course of events which happen first and foremost in the public space. And how this social action is related to aesthetics.

Fiesta is, with its happenings and theater, gestures and symbolic objects, scenography and landscape accidents, a grammar which allows to formulate a direct theater enactment, and a self-reflexive project, a politics of ecstasy, where the re-appropriation of a territory, the creation of a collective identity, and the illusion of a common-unity they merge together into a ritual stage allowing groups or individuals to affirm who they are, who they want to be or even nullify (cancel) their identity.

Format and structure:

The workgroup proposal is both a workshop and a masterclass, we aim to inquire, and contribute to the festive happenings which surely will take place during the Hemispheric Institute Encuentro. By means of exploring and enacting liminal scenes-performances-intermissions-between acts, written by the conveners and the workgroup participants, we hope to produce a work of art embedded in the festive performance, cultural, and the landscape of the Encuentro event. A play of direct theater designed collaboratively with the morning work groups, later through the day be represented during the festive events of the Encuentro events, and finally discussed once they are finished, ideally during a collective “hangover” throughout the next morning. Our proposal speaks about itself, giving meaning, and significance to its occurrence while taking place. It will be an event where the audience is invited, even expected, to participate. An event of “supreme authenticity”, where people are involved with their environments, with the ritual scenographies, and perceptions are extended to their limits. Metafiesta is designed to be a theater of risk, spontaneity, exposure, and intensity, where the performance and scenario can transform itself, and still may conduce to unprecedented insights; even generating new symbols, and meanings which may be incorporated into subsequent performances.

List of what applications to the work group should include:

Participation is Metafiesta’s learning method, therefore everyone is welcome and invited. Someone can attend alone, but the empathy, the rubbing with the bodies, the laughter, and the fiesta itself, makes the experience something unforgettably collective, something cathartic; a purification, a liberation opportunity where one can become, transform and maybe, eventually, transcend.

Each participant will be asked to choose an expressive language (drawing, writing, dancing, making gestures, media documentation) in order to register their participation in the festive happenings. In addition, we consider convenient to join and encourage personal relationships with others, making new friends, and in general, the ability to interact harmoniously in the social context of the Metafiesta. It will also help to have high levels of stamina: the ability to withstand intermediate physical dancing and partying activity, tiredness, and possible hangover state. But more importantly is self-awareness, capacity for introspection, and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment, and other individuals.

Ideal number of participants:

15 to 20.

Languages spoken/understood by the conveners:

Spanish, English, German, Italian, and French.


Alex de las Heras is a conceptual artist, contemporary art and performance curator, and a PhD candidate in Human and Social Science at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where he is working on a theoretical and artistic dissertation title “Metafiesta”—a device for the construction of future-oriented festive stages. Heras fell in love with social sciences, rituals, and festive “happenings” at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria, where he holds two Masters: one in Experimental Design, and the another in Media Culture and Art Theories. His practice is a combination between a common militancy of game and humor, the popular, and banal.

Paolo Vignolo is associate professor of history at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia, Bogotá. His fields of research and creation deal with public history, cultural heritage, and memory studies with a focus on live arts and performance. He holds a PhD in History at the EHESS of Paris, and in 2012-13 was selected as the Santo Domingo Visiting Scholar of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) at Harvard University.

Camila Aschner-Restrepo is assistant professor of cultural studies at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. Her fields of research and creation deal with performance and memory, narratives and utopias, and dystopias across different media. She holds a PhD in interdisciplinary studies in Humanities and Social Sciences from Emory University, Atlanta and a certificate in artistic research from a.pass, Brussels.