Doris Salcedo

I was thrilled to be reminded of the haunting work of Doris Salcedo on the first episode of Art 21. I originally saw her installation of Atrabiliarios at the Art Institute of Chicago years ago and have never forgotten it. It was an incredibly potent work. Salcedo is from Columbia and this work addressed the disappeared.

© Doris Salcedo
Atrabilarios [Defiant].
Wall installation with plywood, shoes, animal fibre and surgical thread,
Atrabiliarios (Detail)

Small niches were cut in the wall and covered by translucent windows of animal skin stitched directly into the wall. Inside the spaces were shoes that Salcedo collected from the families of victims of the violence. The skin prevents viewers from seeing the shoes clearly. One can only wonder what happened to the owners of the shoes that were once worn by the victims of Columbia's repressive government. In addition to functioning as portraits of the "disappeared" the works also speak to the grief and uncertainty faced by those who are left behind.

I found this information while doing research on Atrabiliarios...Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) believed that all human knowledge derived from art and that the creative principle that lies within everyone was the source of personal, social and spiritual transformation.

Now that is something to contemplate.