Doris Salcedo, Atrabiliarios 1992, 1997. Mervyn Horton Bequest Fund 1997, Art Gallery of NSW collection © Doris Salcedo
Salcedo’s work is permeated by a sense of loss and mortality, which stems from the artist’s personal history. Members of her own family have been among the many people who have disappeared in politically troubled Colombia, and her work deals with the fact that, while the death of a loved one can be mourned, their disappearance leaves an unbearable emptiness.
Atrabiliarios 1992, 1997
This work is a form of memorial to the people of Colombia who sometimes just disappear; they may be held hostage by drug barons or by government-backed militia. Shoes are very personal items, carrying the imprint of the wearer’s body. Salcedo has placed the shoes of a few of the disappeared, donated by their families, into wall niches, and sewn them up behind a cow bladder membrane, as if literally internalising memory within a body. Barely visible, the shoes are a haunting evocation of their absent owners.
View Atrabiliarios in the collection