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DORIS SALCEDO CRACKS THE FLOOR ON THE LEGACY OF RACISM AND COLONIALISM AT THE TATE MODERN

By Culturekiosque Staff

LONDON, 5 APRIL 2008 — 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 at the Tate Modern in London. 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.

Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth
until 6 April 2008

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

Travel Calendar Tip: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Conference: What's the Use of Race?
Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
25 - 26 April 2008
Researchers and journal editors in medicine, science, law, and social science explore the competing interests that make studies of race both feared and desired.

Book Tip

All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to Culturekiosque readers.

The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation
By Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff

Hardcover: 528 pages
Knopf (November 2006)
ISBN-10: 0679403817
ISBN-13: 978-0679403814
$30.00

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