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Thou less, 2001-2002

Doris Salcedo - Tabula Rasa

Colombian artist, Doris Salcedo (*1958), receives the first Possehl Prize for International Art in Lübeck in 2019. Following exhibitions at the Tate Modern (London, 2007) and Guggenheim Museum (New York, 2015), St. Annen Art Gallery, in Lübeck will be showing her first solo exhibition in Germany from September 7 to November 3. Internationally renowned artist, Doris Salcedo, explores the effects of violence and marginalization in her home country of Colombia and other regions of the world through objects, sculptures and large, static installations.

The jury for the Possehl Prize for International Art being awarded for the first time, emphasizes that Doris Salcedo finds poetic images of political power systems, racism and systematic inequalities, and that her work is "of the highest relevance to our contemporary times". The award ceremony will take place on the September 7, with the prize being endowed with 25,000 Euros. 

Salcedo's work begins where others turn away: with great sensitivity in her sculptures and installations, she addresses the tragic repercussions of violence as a consequence of political and economic claims to power, thereby guiding the viewer to the emotional level of the victims and their relatives. The civil war-like conflict, which has been going on for five decades in her native Colombia, is the starting point for many of Salcedo's projects. Her artworks are anti-monuments, testimonies of torture, loss and trauma. Here, the artist creates poetic installations and expansive works that, in their fragility and vulnerability, lend a tangible presence to those who survived or fell victim to the brutality and injustice. For example, at the 8th Biennale in Istanbul (2003), she piled 1,500 chairs in a narrow gap between two houses in a neighborhood once inhabited by members of the Greek and Jewish minorities. In 2007, she took a closer look at Europe's dealings with migrants in 'Shibboleth' in the Tate Modern and questioned the closed-door and marginalization mechanisms of the so-called "first world" with a long and deep crack in the concrete floor of the turbine hall.

In her current series, 'Tabula Rasa I-IV', Salcedo artistically explores the rape suffered by many women during the Colombian civil war and the ongoing reign of tyranny. To create this installation, she destroyed tables, symbols of life and living, and reassembled them with glue in a work process made up of many tiny pieces. The restored objects show clear traces of their destruction. The impossibility of reversing an act of violence once committed is inscribed in everyday objects in a material and metaphorical way. The meaningful title of this series of works is also the title of the exhibition.