THEMATIC: History and Experience

"Noviembre 6 y 7," 2000. Installation at Palace of Justice, Bogotá, Colombia. © Doris Salcedo. Courtesy the Alexander and Bonin, New York.

Historical events and personal experience can strongly influence the process of making art. For Doris Salcedo, the experience of living in the Third World impacts not only the reasons she makes art, but also what she makes. In her Art in the Twenty-First Century segment, Salcedo discusses how her art bears testimony to victims of violence, poverty, and disempowerment. View Salcedo's segment, and consider how her work brings memories and experiences from current events as well as the past into the present.

Compare the way Doris Salcedo reflects on the relationship between historical events and personal experience to the approaches of other artists whose works draw from the past or current events, including: Kara Walker, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Yinka Shonibare MBE, and Carrie Mae Weems.

SEGMENT: Doris Salcedo in "Compassion"

Before Viewing
What are the different ways in which our society remembers current and historic events? In what ways do monuments, textbooks, or works of art convey history and historic events?

Define the terms modernism and modernity. What is the difference? Discuss the historical context in which modernism developed, and give examples of artworks that can be described as modern. How does contemporary art relate to its modern antecedents?

While Viewing
Discuss Salcedo's explanation of the word experience, including the Latin root that means "going across danger." How does Salcedo's definition relate to specific works of art and her working process?

After Viewing
How does Salcedo's description of herself as a Third World artist define her work? What does it mean for her to be a Third World artist?

Salcedo describes her work as an attempt to rescue a memory. What do you think she means by this? What kinds of memories is Salcedo trying to rescue? How does she do this?

Use a series of interviews—for example, with people in your family, school, or neighborhood—as the starting point for a work of art.