Doris Salcedo – Fissures: Exploring the public art(s) of memorialization

Johannes Klabbers
2009 Conference

German artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock came eleventh in the 1995 international competition for a Holocaust memorial in Berlin with their “anti-proposal” Bus Stop. Rather than creating a static monolith the artists proposed that the site where the eventual 2700 concrete slabs ended up would be occupied by a bus stop and information centre and that red busses with the sign denkmal (memorial) would travel all over Berlin taking visitors to various sites around the city that relate to the holocaust. As Schnock said, “A giant monument has no effect and ultimately becomes invisible. Giving people a way to visit the authentic crime scenes would be far more effective.” [1]

What is the remit of public art? What are the responsibilities of artists and architects engaged in creating works which seek to memorialize genocidal events? My paper seeks to address these issues in the context of the work of Columbian artist Doris Salcedo whose work has variously addressed the trauma suffered by victims of violence both in her own country, and in her more recent works, internationally and historically.

[1] accessed 7.9.09 Keywords : Public Art, Memorials, Holocaust, Contemporary Art, Film, Photography

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About the author

Johannes Klabbers is the postgraduate coordinator and course coordinator of the Master of Arts Practice programme in the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga NSW. A Dutch writer, curator and now an ex-artist, he has worked across a range of mediums including experimental sound and music, radio, performance, photomedia, video, installation, online writing, interactive multimedia, zines and internet art for two decades. His work has been published, screened and exhibited in Australia and internationally. A founding member of the Wagga Space Program, he was a co-curator of the Unsound03 and Unsound04 experimental sound and music festivals. Johannes was educated at Sydney College of the Arts and the University of Newcastle. He received a PhD in Fine Art from Charles Sturt University in 2003. His research interests include art and auto/biography and representations of the Holocaust