Doris Salcedo: Process and Material

Doris Salcedo's work is a constant reference for a number of reasons. Firstly because fragility has always being apparent in the work, secondly because she is latinamerican and deals with themes of political violence which is common issue among these countries, but most importantly, because she continuously translates those issues and feelings into materials and forms alone.

Reflecting on her latest solo exhibition at the White Cube Gallery, on this occasion, the work's process quality is especially perceivable in 'Palimpset'. The gathering of unknown names takes architectural proportions metaphorically and literally. Yet the product is reduced to single components which answer to the artist's aim for the art: to develop an alternative mode of articulation. She does this by producing a simple, abstract and emotional expression as opposed to news in the media. Identifying the subjects by name is new in her work.

 

However, I believe the 'Tabula Rasa' sculptures are more successful in communicating a message that feels universal. Once again she relies on the treatment of materials and forms to communicate suffering, but translated into beautiful gestures. Even though it is conceived from interviews with victims of rape, the reconstruction of something that has been broken is relatable on other different levels. One could think about love relationships, child abuse, destruction of cities, all linked with fragmentation and reconstructing. 

On both works, this treatment of the material is such that the work as a whole might be deceiving at first glance but as the spectator approaches, it  reveals the story.

 

As a parallel event, in conversation with curator Carolyn Christov, Salcedo made the important remark that there is not much attention given to latin american artists.