Colombian, born 1958
Wood, cement, and metal
74 x 44 x 21 1/2 inches (188 x 111.8 x 54.6 cm)
Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 1999
In her native country of Colombia, Doris Salcedo faces conflict that continually disrupts people’s lives with disappearances, deaths, drug wars, and random acts of violence. Salcedo has witnessed some of this violence, both firsthand and through interviews with victims. In her sculpture, she attempts to communicate the Colombian people’s plight through abstract, yet extremely expressive, means. The artist created numerous works like the one in the Gallery’s Collection by reinforcing pieces of wood furniture with metal bars, then filling them with concrete that is smoothed by hand. The result is cold, heavy, and silent—for Salcedo, a parallel to the way many victims encase themselves in silence to help preserve both their lives and their psyches. The artist has commented, “My task as an artist is to make sense out of brutal facts. My work is an attempt to make violent reality intelligible. Needless to say, a lifetime is not enough for such a task. In the third world, we are well aware that human beings do not triumph over external reality. We must produce meaning out of the tensions and chaos generated by our harsh conditions. Making art is a way of understanding, a way of comprehending reality.”
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