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After completing her BFA at the Universidad de Bogotá in 1980, Doris Salcedo went to New York, where she completed an MFA in Fine Art at New York University. She later returned to her native city, where she taught at the Universidad de Bogotá. Her work is profoundly affected by the unsettled political situation in her country. Her sculpture is made in response to testimony from friends and relatives of victims killed during her lifetime and often takes the form of reconfigured pieces of household furniture. Her Casa Viuda VI (1995; Jerusalem, Israel Mus.) consists of a cabinet fused with bone and clothing and forcibly attached to an unhinged door as an image of a widow's house. Transforming objects that should be familiar and comforting into things of horror, Salcedo draws attention to the grisly facts that underpin everyday existence in her society. Unland: Irreversible Witness (1995–8; San Francisco, CA, MOMA) plays on the form of a table, the symbol of communal living: two halves of tables are made into a hybrid whole, to which she attached the frame of a child's cot. Drilling hundreds of small holes into the table top, she wove a delicate surface of human hair, making the table into an unsettling monument to the disappeared victims of a silent war. Her sculpture has been described as a gesture of healing in a culture where memory is condemned to oblivion.
“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 meaning they have required in the practice of everyday life…then, I work to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached.” (D. Salcedo)
“The silent contemplation of each viewer permits the life seen in the work to reappear. Change takes place, as if the experience of the victim were reaching out…The sculpture presents the experience as something present- a reality that resounds within the silence of each human being that gazes upon it.” (D. Salcedo)
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