Top art prize for Doris Salcedo

By Lukas Kaldenhoff November 18, 2019

There’s further international acclaim for one of Latin America’s leading artists as Bogotá-based Doris Salcedo wins awards in Japan and Germany.

Doris Salcedo, one of Latin America’s leading artists
Bogotá-based Doris Salcedo, one of Latin America’s leading artists. Photo: David Heald

Doris Salcedo is certainly not a feel-good artist. Her work starts where others would turn away. For example, she worked with 20 survivors of sexual violence from Colombia’s armed conflict to create Fragmentos, her counter-monument in Bogotá. Using hammers, she channeled their pain into metal floor slabs, consisting of 9,000 melted-down guns handed over by the FARC after the peace deal. 

Salcedo uses powerful imagery to bring themes that are difficult and often off-limits to the public eye. “I believe works of art made with the collaboration of victims of political violence have the possibility to connect art and reality,” she recently told the Guardian

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The bogotana artist is the first-ever winner of the Nomura Art Award, the largest prize in contemporary art. The USD $1 million award from Nomura Holdings, Inc., a  Japanese financial services company, is designed to support artists who would struggle to complete ambitious projects without financial assistance.

Announcing the award on October 31, Nomura senior managing director, Hajime Ikeda, paid homage to the Colombian artist, saying: “Doris Salcedo does not shy away from change but rather is determined to be a game-changer.”

Calling the news “unexpected,” Doris Salcedo said she was filled with “overwhelming humility and gratitude.” Salcedo plans to use the prize to work on a piece about Cúcuta as part of her Acts of Mourning installation, which remembers those killed during the conflict.  

In September, Salcedo also received the $25,000 Possehl international art prize. The jury praised the way the 61-year-old artist managed to find “poetic images for political regimes, racism, and systematic inequality.” 

The award was announced at the opening ceremony of her exhibition Tabula Rasa in the North German city Lübeck. Salcedo took broken tables and fixed them with glue using the visible marks of destruction to symbolise the impossibility of undoing acts of violence after they’ve been committed.

Fragmentos is a permanent fixture of the Museo Nacional’s Candelaria site, Carrera 7 # 6B-30