Trace Memories: Reading Response

Denise Birkhofer toggles between universal themes of violence and specific individual experiences in his discussion artist Doris Salcedo. Doris Salcedo responds directly to the violence in her native Colombian culture. Birkhofer suggest Salcedo uses clothing and objects to represent individuals. Furniture stands in as a narrative while clothing acquired from victims’ families provide an intimate experience.

Trace Memories discusses four examples of Salcedo’s work optimizing the metaphor between objects and people. In Untitled, new white shirts represent 40 banana plantation workers after their horrific massacre. Organization of the generic materials suggests the universal activity of counting death tolls. Atrabiliarios buried shoes donated by individual families and from hospitals in Bogototá under a thin bladder membrane. The membrane separates the view from the victim creating the unclarity of memory. In later versions of La Casa Viuda, Salcedo mends furniture with human remains, such as bone and skin. Although inspired by specific events that the artist feels a responsibility to publicly mourn, Salcedo creates a universal understanding of victimization.

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Untitled 1989-1993

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Atrabiliarios 1989-1991

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La Casa Viuda II 1992-1994


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