Memory and pain

Doris Salcedo, A Flor de Piel, 2011-12

Probably best known in London for Shibboleth – the crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern – Doris Salcedo is an artist with an extraordinary ability to take the most ordinary objects and materials and turn them into moving and often highly political works. Her current exhibition at White Cube, Mason’s yard contains just two works. Nonetheless it gave me a lot to think about and, time permitting, I’d like to go back.

In the upstairs space, A Flor de Piel looks more like flayed skin than rose petals. The piece is a large-scale blanket of what must amount to many, many thousands of petals and stitches which the press release describes – much better than I can – as ‘a shroud composed of sutured rose petals’. That word sutured seems apt. There is a sense of the bodily in its skin-like appearance and also a feeling of a surgical mending rather than a more domestic sewing together (though of course the two essentially amount to the same act).

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