Scenes for a New Heritage

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Doris Salcedo. Atrabilious. 1992-93

Wall installation with plywood, shoes, cow bladder and surgical thread, six niches, Overall 30 x 70 1/4 x 5 1/8" (76.2 x 178.4 x 13 cm). Gift of Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis. © 2018 Doris Salcedo

Glenn Lowry: Colombian artist Doris Salcedo creates works that bear witness to the violence and loss experienced by victims of her nation’s recent history of civil war. Here’s the artist, from a 2005 interview with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Artist, Doris Salcedo: All of my work is based on real experiences. So I try to find individuals who have gone through extreme experiences. That is the point of departure. In this case, it’s about the disappear[red] people in Colombia. And how their families never ever hear anything about them. And what I found was a lot of pain located in the individual realm of each house.

Glenn Lowry: Salcedo’s choice of materials reflects the meager circumstances of many of these victims.

Doris Salcedo: In Atrabiliarios I had placed myself exactly there, with minimal resources and working with the most despicable material you can think of. Something that we all feel repelled by. Cow bladders on one hand, and old shoes. We don’t like old shoes but nevertheless every time we see a shoe on the street we wonder what happened there. It’s the wrong place for that shoe to be. So the materials come from that.