Please note that this work has been requested for the exhibition Doris Salcedo at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, traveling to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Los Angeles Country Museum of Art/Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, from February 2015-July 2016.
The way that an artwork brings materials together is incredibly powerful. Sculpture is its materiality. I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with a meaning they have acquired in the practice of everyday life. Used materials are profoundly human; they all bespeak the presence of a human being. Therefore metaphor becomes unnecessary. I work matter to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached
Columbian sculptor Doris Salcedo's haunting and intimate works explore reoccurring themes of loss and memory through the use and manipulation of mundane, everyday objects. In the present lot, Untitled, created in 1995, Salcedo uses the form of an aged wooden chair, entombed in a concrete encasement to explore the sense of absence created by discarded and abandoned objects. Deeply political and emotional in tone and intent, this poignant work utilizes the aged patina of the chair and roughly poured concrete to underscore the personal history and significance of Untitled.
Hailing from the deeply conflicted country of Columbia, Salcedo's work examines the absence and loss that is created by violence. Throughout her oeuvre this subject is explored through the use of commonplace objects such as chairs, shoes, tables and beds that have been disfigured and repurposed to create a new art object. These sculptures no longer represent the objects they were once intended for, but reflect the human presence which can no longer utilize these chairs, shoes, tables and beds. These objects, imbued with such historical narrative and personal significance evoke a sense of nostalgia and memorialization.
"Memory, of course, is the essence of my work. I think if we don't know our past there is no way we can live the present properly and there is no way we can face the future. So when all these catastrophic events take place we tend to remember just the last one. So our past really piles up behind our backs and we don't really look at it and we don't confront it. It is very important to bring these past events, to bring them alive...
If I did anything right then some aspects of the lives that were lost may be present. Then maybe the viewer can connect to those aspects. I think we all have memories of pain and those memories maybe can connect with the memories of pain inscribed in these pieces. It's difficult to deal with horrible events and tragic events and then turn all that pain into beauty. That's something that I find perverse. But on the other hand I believe that if you want to dignify a human life than you have to come back to beauty because that is where we find dignity. And almost turn it into a sacred space. That is the level of beauty that should be present in the work," (D. Salcedo IN CITATIONXXXXXX).
The present lot, comprised of a well-worn and patina-ed wooden chair sheathed in roughly poured concrete, bears the marks and suggestions of history. Despite the unpolished nature of the elements of the sculpture, Untitled is an elegant and thoughtfully rendered work.