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Doris Salcedo

Colombian  •  b. 1958

Biography

Colombian-born sculptor Doris Salcedo studied at New York University before returning to her hometown of Bogotá to teach in 1980. Her work revolves around themes of suffering and loss, inspired by both personal and collective experience of trauma in Colombia. Composed of commonplace items such as wooden furniture, clothing and grass, her sculptures give form to the emptiness left in the wake of the death or disappearance of a loved one. By acknowledging and making manifest the void, her works probe its potential to be reappropriated as a space of mourning. She has become predominantly famous for her installation artwork, in which she incorporates the physicality of space, creating historically and politically charged environments.

Insights

  • Salcedo's piece for the Tate Modern, Shibboleth (2007), was a huge chasm gashing through the gallery's concrete floor, representing  the experience of immigrants in Europe.

  • Salcedo's Unland: The Orphan's Tunic (1997) appears to be a mundane table, but takes on a more haunting presence when considered closely: two destroyed tables joined together and veiled (by the eponymous tunic). The table thus gains metaphorical significance as an orphaned body.

  • Salcedo's first museum retrospective received rave reviews and traveled from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to Pérez Art Museum Miami over the course of 2015 to 2016.

"When a person disappears, everything becomes impregnated with that person's presence. Every single object as well as every space becomes a reminder of absence."

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