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A Response to Social Injustice, Memory, and Loss at the Guggenheim

By Kelsey Miranda

September 11, 2015

On view at the Guggenheim until October 12, is a retrospective of Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. The self-titled exhibit will be on view in the museum’s Tower galleries, showcasing nearly three decades of the artist’s work.

Salcedo is known for her site-specific projects, installations, and architectural interventions around the world. Her original form of artwork is dedicated to victims of violence and oppression steaming racism, colonialism, and war. Many of her works stand as a memorial to lost heroes and victims of her native country of Colombia, but also the United States, Great Britain, and Turkey. “Doris Salcedo” delves into the research she has conducted with violent crime victims’ families for many years.

Uncompromising and visionary, Salcedo creates spaces for mourning. Some instillations set up like troubling “chapels” and others use material objects as vessels for emotion and grieving. Salcedo’s mission is to address human rights concerns, creating a moment to have people stop and reflect.

At the Guggenheim, when viewers first walk into the gallery, there are rows and rows of tables stacked on top of each other. The tables have dirt with grass sprouting from it, and share the dimensions of coffins. Rows of mounted shoes and boxes made of animal hide make your skin crawl. It is truly haunting and sets the tone for the rest of the show. One of the most memorable moments is a work of a red rose blanket spread across the majority of the floor. Made of petals stitched together, the blanket has a lifeless red color. Beautiful and grotesque, the it serves as a memorial for a Colombian nurse who was slain by guerilla soldiers.

A documentary of Salcedo and her public work plays at the museum’s New Media Theater daily from 11am to 5:30pm. Later in the fall, the artist will join with the Guggenheim’s curatorial staff for a symposium on October 2. Salcedo is currently working on an instillation in Chicago where she plans to create a plaza in memory of young victims of gun violence planned to open later this year. “We have to continue analyzing, criticizing, point out, marking, addressing, and showing society the questions that the society needs to pose to itself. We need to be this critical eye. And I think that for me, that’s the role I decided to assume as the artist,” said Salcedo.

architectural interventionArtDoris SalcedoExhibitionsKelsey Mirandapublic projectsRetrospectiveSolomon R. Guggeheim MuseumWhitewall


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