Damaged concrete as high art

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Doris Salcedo Shibboleth 2007 Photo: Tate

Concrete’s been on my mind lately, so I find this exhibit at the Tate Modern in London particularly interesting. I can’t help but wonder… did she use a jackhammer? Was there muriatic acid involved? Will they use Quickrete to patch this? Do they have a plan for repairing this mess?

From the Tate website:

“Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth is the first work to intervene directly in the fabric of the Turbine Hall. Rather than fill this iconic space with a conventional sculpture or installation, 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, creating a tension between these elements that resist yet depend on one another. By making the floor the principal focus of her project, Salcedo dramatically shifts our perception of the Turbine Hall’s architecture, subtly subverting its claims to monumentality and grandeur. 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.”

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