Thursday, October 1, 2015

Doris Salcedo at The Guggenheim

A Flor de Piel (2014)

            Entering the Doris Salcedo show is much like walking into a mausoleum; a dark, contemplative energy fills the room.  Each piece exists silent and monumental, occupying the physical space and our own internal landscape like tombstones honoring the memories of those passed. These “tombstones” – taking the form of cement-filled and crudely amalgamated furniture, for example – have an eerie magnetic quality that transforms the viewer from a mere bystander to a witness to the unspoken tragedies of the people of Salcedo’s native Colombia.
            Perhaps one of the more disturbing pieces in the show involves an awkward arrangement of wooden tables. What isn’t immediately evident is Salcedo’s subtle perversion of these familiar surfaces: she has painstakingly woven individual hairs through minuscule holes across the tabletops. There is something undeniably haunting that inspires a visceral discomfort: a familiar object desecrated by human hands, its surface pierced with needle and hair.

            Salcedo’s visual poetry has developed to communicate the immense sorrow that plagues the lives of her subjects. Whether it is the image of preserved rose petals stitched by hand together to create a textile resembling flayed skin or a young girl’s dress claustrophobically engulfed in concrete, Salcedo insinuates a dark energy that lingers with the viewer.


  1. Hi Alex,
    Overall I think your review was very successful in transmitting the artists' ideas and the general feeling of the exhibition. I would suggest you to develop some of the topics you mention, such as the awkward arrangement of the works (if you are talking about the museum space, it would be interesting to describe the galleries) and the background to the Colombian tragedies that are so important for Salcedo's work. Also, I think the use of "I" throughout the review might make it a bit too personal and sometimes not too necessary to convey the ideas you are developing - such as the last sentence, where you could simply say "Ultimately, Salcedo taps into our innately human fear of having our personal story forgotten."

  2. Hey Alex!
    You did a great job of revealing your emotive response of the exhibition as you walk the readers through some of the details that convey Saucedo’s physical toil and sympathy. I think it might be helpful for readers not familiar with her work, to describe the general “structures” of her medium. I resonate with you that her “visual language is poetic and haunting,” particularly in that she speaks through everyday objects and their materialization creates a spatial charge. It would be intriguing if you mention that materiality, like you did in class about your relationship with textiles. It would make your review even more compelling, to draw from your unique perspective as you did ending on
    a universal, yet personal note.