Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Doris Salcedo

Untitled, 2008

Wood and concrete

85 5/8 x 95 1/4 x 40 in. (220 x 242 x 120 cm)

Gift of Katharine S. Schamberg by exchange

Since the late 1980s, Salcedo has addressed the sorrow and loss caused by the violence of civil war in Colombia with sculptures that represent the internal anguish of innocent victims as well as the physical presences of those who have been repressed or silenced by coercion or murder. While each project is rooted in the testimony of an individual, all of them carefully researched by the artist, together the ambiguous sculptures convey a shared experience of loss.

Rather than offering literal statements or representations, Salcedo conveys the fragility of the body and a sense of remembrance through her use of materials. Everyday domestic items, such as wardrobes, tables, and chairs, are combined and reordered to create dysfunctional objects. The artist has said of her work, “It is always the idea of something that is common, that we all recognize, turned into something that has undergone a process that is obviously violent… .” In this untitled work, the objects evoke the consequences of violence as well as the contradictions inherent in survival. While still recognizable, the large wardrobe is submerged in a smaller chest filled with cement, rendering both objects useless and reflecting on the weight of trauma and the impossibility of letting go.