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Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art Hardcover – January 30, 2011
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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.
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Much of the book is trying to explain Salcedo's approach to political art, but this issue remains vague and ill-defined. At one point in the book (p, 179), Bal finally indicates that the closest she will get to articulating why the work is political is that it allows one to respond in whatever way one feels is appropriate. This is hardly ground-breaking stuff. The Phaidon book on the artist and the catalogue Unland offer better scholarly interpretations of the artist's work.
In the section on "Untitled Furniture (Armoire)", the use of concrete filling a glass armoire raises many rhetorical questions on death, existence who exactly is buried in the spaces created inside and outside of the concrete. Mixing personal experiences with the artist's work and incorporating an understanding of the artist's own traumatic past, this book is a jumping-off point into the study of modern art, loss and grief. While not an encyclopedia, there is plenty of grist to chew on, and I recommend this book for anyone seeking to further their study of the "why" and "what" of the politics of memory.