Mary Schneider-Enriquez

Lecture 8: Private Pain, Public Witness: The Sculpture and Installations of Doris Salcedo


Doris Salcedo creates sculptures and installations incorporating simple domestic furniture as the vehicle through which she addresses the societal rupture resulting from the violence afflicting countless countries. With no evident narrative, Salcedo’s sculptures using chairs, tables and chests, some filled with cement, some shrouded by intricate weavings of hair and threads, some constructed and carved of stainless steel, convey the horrific consequences of violent conflict from her Colombian homeland, to Bosnia, the Mideast and beyond. This talk will explore Salcedo’s trajectory beginning with her earliest works using mundane domestic furniture such as chairs and tables, to her Untitled series of cement-filled, haunting assemblages of, for example, a bureau, bed and chair, her Unland series of tables, her politically-charged performance, Nov. 6-7 from 2002 of 280 chairs slowly cascading over the outside walls of the Colombian Supreme Court building, her stainless steel works at Documenta XI, and most recently, her installation, Plegaria Muda 2009-10, touring internationally this year and next. This lecture will probe and unravel the manner in which Salcedo conjures an enduring statement to the searing effects of societal violence, in work at once familiar and unsettling, in a language devoid of vivid, visual clues or narrative details.

Mary Schneider-Enriquez.jpg

Mary Schneider-Enriquez is Houghton Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum. She previously served as Latin American art advisor to the Art Museum since 2002 and visiting lecturer in fine arts at Brandeis University. She has served as a member of the Advisory Committee for Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies since 1995 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, since 1999. Schneider-Enriquez is also a member of the Harvard Art Museum’s World Visuality Committee, a group dedicated to addressing societies and their artistic traditions that have previously been underrepresented at Harvard. She has written extensively over the last sixteen years for Art News, ArtNexus and Art in America. She has curated numerous exhibitions of Latin American artists, including the Chilean artist Robert Matta and numerous survey exhibitions.

Diana Clarke