Doris Salcedo - Atrabiliarios, 1992 - 2009





Doris Salcedo makes sculptures and installations about and in response to the violence and conflict of everyday life in her native country of Colombia. Like German artist Joseph Beuys, Salcedo sees her art as representing a social conscience, with her role as a perpetual witness. In a sense the work gives voice to those in Colombian society who are violently repressed, silenced and controlled by fear, and provides the focus for a sense of community, even defiance, though a collective memory and a shared experience of loss.

The materials she works with: simple furniture like wardrobes, tables and chairs, clothing, thread and animal skin, speak of the sanctity and familiarity of everyday domestic life. Through her molding or reshaping of these pieces - embedding a chair within a doorframe, grafting two tables into an unstable hybrid - she creates a traumatized, dysfunctional, object. 
With the clothes, each object implies a nameless person; the wearer. In the piece "Atrabiliarios," meaning defiant, old shoes, in pairs and singles, are encased in a row of wall alcoves, behind sheets of translucent animal skin which are crudely stitched to the wall. Below on the floor are small boxes, like living caskets, made from the same animal membrane. The shoes which bear the marks of wear, all belonged to women who were 'disappeared', and were donated to the artist by victims' families. Their place here, hazily visible through the skin sheet, echoes the persistent memory for all those whose fate and whereabouts is unknown, permanently suspended between the present and the past. "Thus 'Atrabiliarios' is not only a portrait of disappearance, but a portrait of the survivors' mental condition of wracking uncertainty, longing and mourning."
--Institute of International Visual Arts 

thanks to artistsofcolour , Sergio Clavijo, and Hanneorla Hanneorla