Palimpsesto: Doris Salcedo’s reflection on violence

Doris Salcedo. “Palimpsesto”, 2017.

 

 

Doris Salcedo’s (Bogotá, 1958) work is not conformist, not it seeks the comfort of meaning either. To the contrary. This sculptor uses art to reflect on the suffering of marginated, the impact of political violence and the mourning as a human process that provides dignity to all of us. “Palimpsesto” is a work that encloses the purest essence of the modus operandi of this artist, and it achieves to represent the violence without violence.

 

 

 

Portrait of Doris Salcedo. Photo by ©Rui Gaudencio, 2014.

 

 

The artworks of Doris Salcedo are large projects in which she invests a lot of resources, both of time and of intellectual efforts. Each piece is the result of a confluence of elements that put together personal experiences, research and reflection upon the sense of the artwork and its communicative value. But the aim is to make visible a deep message that highlights the value of human life in a tumultuous period where natural disasters, armed conflicts and social discrimination push millions of people to move, migrate and risk their lives.

 

 

 

Doris Salcedo. “Palimpsesto”, 2017.

 

 

Doris Salcedo does not leave anyone indifferent. Her sculptures, on the edges of the classic concept of this discipline, have received much attention from many cultural institutions at an international level, and some of the biggest museums have organised monographic exhibitions, as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (2015), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, 1998), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1999 and 2005) or the Tate Modern of London (2007).

 

 

 

Doris Salcedo. Design of the project “Palimpsesto”, 2017.

 

 

This time, the Palacio de Cristal will host a sculpture-installation that reproduces the names of millions of men and women as a way to represent the tragedy, nowadays already usual, of people dying into the sea during their desperate escape from their country of origin. The same day of the opening, the museum has organised a lecture with the artist who, together with Estrella de Diego, an essayist and full professor of the Complutense University of Madrid, will explain to the public the message of her proposal “Palimpsesto”.

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.