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Doris Salcedo in "Compassion"

“I am a Third World artist,” says Doris Salcedo, “from that perspective—from the perspective of the victim, from the perspective of the defeated people—it’s where I’m looking at the world.”

Filmed in her Bogotá, Colombia studio while preparing a series of abstract sculptures based on antique household furniture, the artist devotes careful attention to the tormented wooden finishes and smooth concrete surfaces of her objects.

“I don’t work based on imagination, on fiction,” she explains, characterizing her role as a “secondary witness” to the victims of violence whose testimonies she collects as research for her pieces, such as Atrabiliarios at SFMoMA, the Unland series of tables, the ephemeral installation Noviembre 6 y 7, and Shibboleth—a 160 meter crack in the foundation of Tate Modern in London.

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Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Doris Salcedo

Doris 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. Her work reflects a 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.

“I don’t work based on imagination, on fiction…”

Doris Salcedo

1:45
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Doris Salcedo

2:51
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Doris Salcedo

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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.

Raising Awareness

12:31
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17:01
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13:26
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