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Silent witnesses: Doris Salcedo and Blanchot


Juliff, T, Silent witnesses: Doris Salcedo and Blanchot, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 21, (2) pp. 192-207. ISSN 1443-4318 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited

DOI: doi:10.1080/14434318.2021.1992721


Doris Salcedo’s work calls towards the conjuring of absent testimony and silent witnesses. Across a broad range of works, Salcedo evokes the unwitnessed deaths of thousands of ‘missing’ Columbian peoples who disappeared in the early 21st century. This paper explores how the work of Maurice Blanchot – in particular The Instant of My Death (1994) – can help us understand the deconstruction of witnessing and testimony in Salcedo’s works Plegaria Muda (2008-10) and A Flor de Piel (2012). In both works Salcedo evokes the silent witness, a spectre (Derrida, 1996) that calls forth a responsibility to mourn the missing. This paper considers how Salcedo’s conjuring of silence locates testimony as a work in continual opposition to both truth and fiction, and in so doing proposes a new location of witnessing that demands a new approach to testimony.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Colombia, Doris Salcedo, witnessing, testimony, sculpture
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Art history, theory and criticism
Research Field:Art history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding the past of the Americas
UTAS Author:Juliff, T (Dr Toby Juliff)
ID Code:148302
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Art
Deposited On:2021-12-17
Last Modified:2022-01-13

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