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Doris Salcedo (1958)

Doris Salcedo

Last month wer had our annua; visit to the Alsace region in France to pick up the wine we ordered at Agathe Bursin. This means that we are in 50 km of our favorite museum , the Fondation Beyeler. When we visited in spring the museum presented itself in the best possible way with rooms devoted to Agnes Martin and Mark Rothko, but this time it was possibly even better. Their larges room was devoted to a remarkable piece of art by Doris Salcedo . The work PALMIMPEST covers the floor of the largest room of the Beyeler. 400 square meters are covered wth 66 stone tabs that show in water the names of people that died trying to reach Europe . 171 names emerge and disappear in a continuous process. This is not a work of art that is easy to admire since it appearances not very spectacular, but it is a powerful statement which shows the names and commemorates those that tried to reach a better life.

Doris Salcedo was born in 1958 in Bogotá, Colombia. Salcedo earned a BFA at Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano (1980) and an MA from New York University (1984). Salcedo’s understated sculptures and installations embody the silenced lives of the marginalized, from individual victims of violence to the disempowered of the Third World. Although elegiac in tone, her works are not memorials: Salcedo concretizes absence, oppression, and the gap between the disempowered and powerful.

While abstract in form and open to interpretation, her works serve as testimonies on behalf of both victims and perpetrators. Even when monumental in scale, her installations achieve a degree of imperceptibility—receding into a wall, burrowed into the ground, or lasting for only a short time. Salcedo’s work reflects a collective effort and close collaboration with a team of architects, engineers, and assistants—and, as Salcedo says, “with the victims of the senseless and brutal acts” to which her work refers. ( has the info publication now available for sale.

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