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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.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Associate Curator: Wesley Miller. Production Manager: Nick Ravich. Production Coordinator: Larissa Nikola-Lisa. Consulting Director: Catherine Tatge. Editor: Mark Sutton. Director of Photography: Philippe Charluet, Bob Elfstrom, & Joel Shapiro. Additional Photography: Miguel Sanchez-Martin & Ross Sebek. Sound: Ray Day, Henri Maïkoff, Cory Melious, Evan McIntosh, Patrick Mullins, & Roger Phenix. Assistant Camera: Gregory Paul Bigelow, Craig Feldman, Agnès Jammal, & Clair Popkin. Production Assistant: Ivan Andres Aguirre, Jimmy Chauke, & Amira Abultaif Kadamani.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Direction & Design: Open, New York. Graphics Animation: Maurice Caicedo & Urosh Perishic. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie. Composer: Peter Foley. Voice-Over Artist: Jace Alexander. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins & Greg Smith. Sound Mix: Cory Melious. Artwork Animation: Frank Ferrigno. Assistant Editor: Ahmed Amer, Janine Cappadona, Paulo Padilha, Joaquin Perez, Leana Siochi, & Ken Yapelli.

On Screen Participants (in order of appearance): Nokrismesi “Kimmy” Skota, Philip Miller, Sabine Theunissen, Catherine Meyburgh, Gyun Hur, Ashley Vieira, Carlos Andres Granada, Ramón Villamarin, Joaquin Sanabria, & Sergio Clavijo.

Artworks Courtesy of: William Kentridge; Doris Salcedo; Carrie Mae Weems; Alexander and Bonin, New York; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris; & P·P·O·W, New York. Archival Footage & Photography Courtesy of: Anna Halprin Papers, Museum of Performance and Design, San Francisco; Connie Beeson; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; & Tate Media, London.

Special Thanks: ACA Gallery, SCAD-Atlanta; Alfonso Amaya; Annandale Galleries, Sydney; The Art21 Board of Trustees; Michael Ashburn; Catherine Belloy; Jane Burton; The Biennale of Sydney; Travis Call; Daniel Cantoni; Wbaldo Castano; Pat Casteel and Steve Wylie; Dario Cardenas Chona; Ralph Cuccurullo; Natalie Dembo; Dog Bark Sound; Doris Salcedo Studio, Bogota; Laurie Ann Farrell; Frame:Runner, NYC; Erica Gangsei; The Hotel Syracuse; Jennifer M. Jones; The Kentridge family; Amy Legin; Linda Leibowitz; Amy Levin; Vanessa Lopez; Sheila Lynch; Maria Pia Mazzilli; Anne McIlleron; Luis Daniel Panqueva Medina; Brooke Mellen; Willian Camilo Ahumada Moscoso; National Black Arts Festival; Oliver Newton; David Perlman; Kyle Petersen; Ariel Phillips; Katie Rashid; Andre Ribuoli; Ancizar Rincón; Jared Schiller; Susan Schneider; Baraka Sele; Keith Shapiro; Sound Lounge; The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust; Pamela Vander Zwan; Tony Volante; & The Woodruff Arts Center.

Additional Art21 Staff: Beth Allen, Mary Cook, Joe Fusaro, Jessica Hamlin, Jennifer H. Lee, Marc Mayer, Jonathan Munar, Katherine Payne, Kelly Shindler, & Sara Simonson.

Interns: Maggie Bordonaro, Krystle DeMauro, Natalia P. Good, Sophie Grant, Pinchang Huang, Joy Lai, Rachele Lam, Jamie Leonardi, Melanie K. Mambo, Pauli Ochi, Sara Odam, David Roesing, Nicole Ross, Nicole Sansone, & Julia Wright.

Public Relations: Goodman Media International. Station Relations: De Shields Associates, Inc. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman. Bookkeeper: Valerie Riley. Travel Agent: Lita Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Art in the Twenty-First Century Season Five provided by: National Endowment for the Arts; Public Broadcasting Service; Agnes Gund; Bloomberg; The Nathan Cummings Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Broad Art Foundation; Korea Foundation; & The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

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

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Doris Salcedo

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Doris Salcedo

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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.

Raising Awareness

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