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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in England
Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth



Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth
ENGLAND
LONDON  •  Tate Modern  •  Ongoing
 

Rather than fill this iconic space with a conventional sculpture or installation, Columbian artist Doris Salcedo has created a subterranean chasm that stretches the length of the Turbine Hall. The concrete walls of the crevice are ruptured by a steel mesh fence.

Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth
Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth
Photo courtesy of Tate Modern

Shibboleth asks questions about the interaction of sculpture and space, about architecture and the values it enshrines, and about the shaky ideological foundations on which Western notions of modernity are built.

In particular, Salcedo is addressing a long legacy of racism and colonialism that underlies the modern world. A ‘shibboleth’ is a custom, phrase or use of language that acts as a test of belonging to a particular social group or class. By definition, it is used to exclude those deemed unsuitable to join this group.

‘The history of racism’, Salcedo writes, ‘runs parallel to the history of modernity, and is its untold dark side’. For hundreds of years, Western ideas of progress and prosperity have been underpinned by colonial exploitation and the withdrawal of basic rights from others. Our own time, Salcedo is keen to remind us, remains defined by the existence of a huge socially excluded underclass, in Western as well as post-colonial societies.

In breaking open the floor of the museum, Salcedo is exposing a fracture in modernity itself. Her work encourages us to confront uncomfortable truths about our history and about ourselves with absolute candidness, and without self-deception.

Doris Salcedo was born in 1958 in Bogotá, Colombia, where she lives and works.



Tate Modern Web Site


Contact: Tate Modern
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
Tel: (44) 20 78 87 88 88

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