Doris Salcedo art

A portion of Doris Salcedo’s Plegaria Muda, 2008–10. Wood, concrete, earth, and grass in 122 parts, dimensions variable. Image: picturetalk321 via Flickr CC.

Beginning Friday, June 26th, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City will play host to Doris Salcedo’s major collection of 122 works, in a massive exhibit titled Plegaria Muda.

With a name that means, approximately, “silent or silenced prayer,” a somber atmosphere among her art pieces is perhaps to be expected. Her exhibit, previously featured in The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, is best suited to bare rooms with white walls, stark light, and concrete floors. Her pieces at first appear domestic; tables and armoires, a carpet, stacks of pristine folded white shirts.

But the carpet is a shroud made of decaying rose petals stitched together. The shirts are impaled on rebar, right where a wearer’s heart would be. The armoires are full of concrete, entombed clothes still faintly visible, fossilized inside. The tables are made of dissimilar parts, stitched together with human hair or with living grass.

“I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with meaning they have required in the practice of everyday life… then, I work to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached.” The artist’s words, from an interview in 2000 still seem to govern the images she chooses to create.

About this exhibit, Salcedo has spoken of her roots in Bogotá, Colombia, and that country’s history of fraught conflict. With research and field work, including many interviews with those more closely affected by political violence than she, she chose not to use literal representations of trauma and loss, but instead to use surrogate bodies, furniture, to illustrate the disruption of life, labor, and family.

Salcedo’s collection will be shown in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum until Monday, October 12, 2015, and will also feature a video documenting more of her artwork, including site-specific and architectural exhibits around the world.

Doris Salcedo: Plegaria Muda

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC

June 26 – October 12, 2015