Chair A Lot

Istanbul (TR)



At the 8th Istanbul Biennial 2003, Doris Salcedo filled a derelict building plot with 1,550 wooden chairs. These were piled house-high and made flush with the facades of the buildings either side, evoking the masses of faceless migrants who underpin our globalised economy.

Doris Salcedo was born in 1958 in Bogota, Colombia, where she continues to live and work. Widely recognised as one of the leading sculptors of her generation, over the past five years Salcedo has increasingly addressed the public sphere in her practice and has completed several large-scale projects around the world. This will be Salcedo’s first public commission in the UK. Responding to specific architectural, geographic and political situations, all of Salcedo’s projects are grounded in meticulous research, the exact nature of which is mostly hidden by the silent and hauntingly beautiful poetry of her work. Common themes include the destructive force of violence, personal and collective trauma, and the tragedy of human loss.

A year before the Istanbul entry, in 2002, over the course of two days Salcedo lowered 280 chairs down the façade of the Palace of Justice in Bogotàto pay homage to those killed here in a failed guerrilla coup seventeen years earlier. Blurring the lines between performance and sculpture this extraordinary spectacle publicly confronted memories of this traumatic event for the first time. More recently in 2006, Salcedo created a work in the eighteenth-century Castello di Rivoli, Turin entitled Abyss. This installation shrouded the white-washed walls of a room used for dynastic displays of power with a brick skin. Immaculately blindfolding the castle’s architecture, Salcedo created a vivid memorial to those excluded from systems of power, past and present. For her most recent exhibition in London, at White Cube in 2004, Salcedo embedded wire mesh into what appeared to be the gallery walls, to create an uncanny suggestion of being trapped in a confined space.

Salcedo’s public works are an extension of her earlier sculptural practice which frequently featured ordinary household objects worn by age such as chairs, tables and wardrobes. Juxtaposing these relics of domestic life with unorthodox materials such as human hair, cement and garments, Salcedo turns familiar objects into visual metaphors for the suffering experienced by victims of violence and injustice. A monographic room containing three seminal sculptural works from Tate’s collections by the artist will be on view at Tate Modern May 2007 onwards. It can be seen on Level 3 as part of the Poetry and Dream collection displays. Doris has created the Unilever Series commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Her installation will has premiered in October 2007. Her piece, Shibboleth (2007), is a 167-metre-long crack in the hall’s floor that Salcedo says “represents borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred. It is the experience of a Third World person coming into the heart of Europe.”

Doris Salcedo (1958)

Installation for the Istanbul Biennale (2003)

Superused: 1,550 used wooden chairs

Istanbul, Turkey

Doris Salcedo at the Tate:

Source: (picture)

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Toon Verberg