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Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art


Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Doris Salcedo, a Colombian-born artist, addresses the politics of memory and forgetting in work that embraces fraught situations in dangerous places. Noted critic and theorist Mieke Bal narrates between the disciplines of contemporary culture in order to boldly reimagine the role of the visual arts. Both women are pathbreaking figures, globally renowned and widely respected. Doris Salcedo, meet Mieke Bal.

In Of What One Cannot Speak, Bal leads us into intimate encounters with Salcedos art, encouraging us to consider each work as a “theoretical object” that invites—and demands—certain kinds of considerations about history, death, erasure, and grief. Bal ranges widely through Salcedos work, from Salcedos Atrabiliarios series—in which the artist uses worn shoes to retrace los desaparecidos (“the disappeared”) from nations like Argentina, Chile, and Colombia—to Shibboleth, Salcedos once-in-a-lifetime commission by the Tate Modern, for which she created a rupture, as if by earthquake, that stretched the length of the museum halls concrete floor. In each instance, Salcedos installations speak for themselves, utilizing household items, human bones, and common domestic architecture to explore the silent spaces between violence, trauma, and identity. Yet Bal draws out even deeper responses to the work, questioning the nature of political art altogether and introducing concepts of metaphor, time, and space in order to contend with Salcedos powerful sculptures and installations.

An unforgettable fusion of art and essay, Of What One Cannot Speak takes us to the very core of events we are capable of remembering—yet still uncomfortably cannot speak aloud.

About the Author

Mieke Bal is Academy Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and a cofounder of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Her many books include Loving Yusuf: Conceptual Travels from Present to Past, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



The Case

The World

The Book

1 Metaphoring: Singularity in Negative Space

Metaphor and Negative Space

Metaphoring Negativity

The Insistence of Metaphor

The Act of Metaphoring

Metaphor as Skin

Atrabiliarios as Political Object

2 The Politics of Anthropomorphism

The Anthropomorphic Imagination

Locating Violence

House Without Spouse

Theaters of Gender

On the Move

3 Timing

Negations of Place

No More Bones


Foreshortening Time

4 The Agency of Space: Installation

Listening to Time in Space

Abduction into Pain

History and the Event in the Present

New Space

5 Acts of Memory

An Act in Search of an Agent

Perception and Memory for Witnessing

Acting Memory

Meanwhile: Herenow

Active Space

Shibboleth of Past and Present

Conclusion: Political Art Takes Place




Product Details

Bal, Mieke
University of Chicago Press
Individual Artist
Art -- Political aspects.
Salcedo, Doris - Criticism and interpretation
Individual Artists - General
American - General
Art - Artists
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
28 color plates, 31 halftones
10 x 7 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Artists
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Contemporary
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Sculpture » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Sculpture » Technique

Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art New Hardcover
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Product details 296 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226035789 Reviews:
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