Doris Salcedo, “Noviembre 6 y 7,” 2000. Installation at Palace of Justice, Bogotá, Colombia. Courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York. © Doris Salcedo.

“Istanbul,” 2003.

“Seeing these 1,550 wooden chairs piled high between two buildings in central Istanbul, I’m reminded of mass graves. Of anonymous victims. I think of both chaos and absence, two effects of wartime violence.”  [11]


SALCEDO: Well, my work is based not on my experience but on somebody else’s experience. I would like to reflect a little bit on the etymology of the word “experience”: it comes from the Latin word experiri, which means “to test” or “to prove,” and from the Latin word periri, which means “peril” and “danger,” and also from the Indo-European root per, which means “going across.” So experience means “going across danger.” So my work is about somebody else’s experience, literally defined. That’s where you get the connection with political violence, that’s where you get the connection with war. And that’s what really interests me.

I have focused all my work on political violence, on forceful displacement, on war, on all these events but not on the large event. I focus on the small, individual, particular experience of a human being. I’m trying to extract that and put it in the work. The memories of anonymous victims are always being obliterated. I’m trying to rescue that memory, if it could be possible. But of course I don’t succeed.


Source: Art21