Audio transcript

Doris Salcedo 'Untitled'

Narrator: The journalist Richard Gott responds to Doris Salcedo's 'Untitled' sculpture of 1998.

RICHARD GOTT
This is an art work that makes an extraordinary and immediate impact and I have two thoughts about it: one is the concept of the cabinet, the mahogany cabinet, which is essentially a sort of extremely bourgeois item, so we're obviously dealing here with what I call 'white settler art'. This is what every middle class house in Colombia has and here it is very shockingly filled with concrete. And the other image that I have, particularly of Bogota, during one of the great periods of violence, is that on every street corner of the more expensive areas of the city were huge, great blocks of concrete guarding the police guard posts, rather like in Northern Ireland. So that, a middle class Colombian who had for many years been essentially ignorant of the violence in the country, which mostly went on in the rural areas, was suddenly confronted in their own city by violence brought home to them by kidnapping, by shootings and then by the need to have a police force in the street. It seems to me that an artist like Doris Salcedo is very much a bourgeois artist in Colombia. She's not related to the great mass of the people, so although she's taking up the theme of violence she's reflecting only the worries of the white middle class population. And somewhere like Colombia has been violent for 500 years civil war in the countryside, areas of Colombia were never even really been subjugated by the Spaniards. So somehow or other you feel that Doris Salcedo and her elite group have only become conscious of how dreadful it is because it's beginning to affect them.