Doris Salcedo

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.

Her awards include a commission from Tate Modern, London (2007); the Ordway Prize, from the Penny McCall Foundation (2005); and a Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Grant (1995). Her work has appeared in major exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (2007); Castello de Rivoli, Turin (2005); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2002); among others. She has participated in the T1 Triennial of Contemporary Art, Turin (2005); Documenta (2002); and the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art (1999). Her work is included in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Doris Salcedo lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Deep Focus

Memory at the Seams: Doris Salcedo’s Sumando Ausencias

In Doris Salcedo’s public-art installation “Sumando Ausencias,” thousands of volunteers blanketed Bolívar Square with cloth containing the names of the victims of Colombia’s decades-long conflict.


Variations on Brutality

In this interview, conducted at the artist’s studio in Bogotá, Colombia in September 2008, Doris Salcedo discusses how people’s experiences of war, displacement, and imprisonment form the foundation of her sculptures and ephemeral installations.