Doris Salcedo

Act of Mourning

Plaza de Bolivar, Bogotá.
24,000 candles [nearly]
© the artist 

On July 3, 2007, nearly 24,000 candles were lit in Bogotá’s Plaza de Bolivar in response to the homicides of the Valle del Cauca deputies who were kidnapped and taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on April 12, 2002. Over the course of six hours, the candles were slowly and deliberately placed in a grid-like pattern in the main square. Salcedo noted that, due to Colombia’s political situation – which has dragged on since the beginning of the civil war in the 1960s – and the volume of massacres and disappearances during that time, as a nation they have become dehumanized and are no longer able to respond. “Acción de Duelo” (“Act of Mourning” aims to teach how to mourn.

Doris Salcedo / Bogotá, Colombia, 1958

Visual artist and sculptor, she develops a work of resistance based on the experiences and testimonies of the armed conflict in her country. Her proposals reflect situations of loss, trauma and pain, seeking to restore the memory of the victims. She works with everyday objects such as furniture recovered from devastated houses, clothes of the disappeared and elements such as roses and candles. Solo exhibitions include Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2017); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, touring to Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2015-16); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (2014). Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Velázquez Visual Arts Award and Hiroshima Art Prize, among other important nominations. Lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia.