Doris Salcedo
(Bogotà, Colombia, 1958)

Atrabiliarios, 1993

Four wooden niches, eigth shoes, cow bladder and surgical thread
99 x 154 x 13,7 cm
[Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio, © ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Pascale Marthine Tayou and GALLERIA CONTINUA, by SIAE 2021]

Sculptures and installations by Doris Salcedo embody the silenced lives of the marginalized. They evoke absence, oppression, and the gap between the disempowered and powerful. While abstract in form, her works serve as testimonies on behalf of both victims and perpetrators. They function as political and mental archaeology, being composed of materials charged with meanings accumulated over years of use in everyday life. Salcedo often takes specific historical events of Columbia as her point of departure: so these belongings, imbued with the patina of use, are directly linked to personal and political tragedy.

Atrabiliarios (1993) consists of four wooden niches, inside which are shoes covered up by cow’s bladder which is sewn with surgical thread and covered with wax. The title references the Latin expression “atra bilis”, which describes the melancholy associated with mourning. In line with the denunciation of social violence in her country of origin, in Atrabiliarios Salcedo has recovered the shoes she received from relatives of women who had disappeared in different rural areas of Colombia, especially in the context of los desaparecidos. The shoes, which retain the physical imprint of the person who used them and wich were often used to identify remains of those women, are ‘hidden’ or ‘silenced’ inside a box, in a clear metaphor for the lives of their owners.

Doris Salcedo lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. Her solo exhibitions include Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2017); Harvard Art Museums, Massachusetts (2016); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, touring to Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2015-2016); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima (2014); Tate Modern, Londra (2007); Camden Arts Centre, Londra (2001); Tate Britain, London (1999); and New Museum, New York (1998). Salcedo has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2014); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013); Hayward Gallery, London (2010); MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Centre, New York (2008); 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2003); Documenta 11, Kassel (2002); and 24th Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo (1998).