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    Mengham, Rod, 1953-
    Failing better : Salcedo's trajectory / Rod Mengham
    Doris Salcedo : neither. --- London : White Cube, 2004
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Mengham, Rod. "Failing Better: Salcedo's Trajectory." In Doris Salcedo Neither. Exh. cat., London: White Cube, 2004.

In this article, the British critic Rod Mengham reviews Doris Salcedo’s installation Neither (2004) in terms of the Colombian artist’s career, identifying significant changes in her work since 2002. Up until that point, Salcedo had produced installations of a ritual nature that referred to the ways in which violence affected the people and social fabric of her country. As pointed out by Mengham, after 2002 Salcedo worked with objects—such as seats (metaphors for human beings)—to create projects that were related to urban environments. Mengham reviews Noviembre 6 y 7 [November 6 and 7] (1993) and the work that Salcedo produced for the Istanbul Biennial (2003), associating them not just with Colombia but with the whole world, and contemplates them through the prism of “widowhood,” duration, commemoration, and anonymity. Mengham reviews Neither, describing the feelings it produces in the viewer, and mentioning the laborious and “inhuman” process involved in its production. He discusses the work in terms of what the chain-link fencing and plaster used to make it evoke in a viewer, and what those materials say about the current world: protection, incarceration, security, and exclusion. Mengham mentions the tension that exists between opacity and transparency in Salcedo’s work and associates it with Michel Foucault’s philosophical ideas concerning the control systems created in the nineteenth century, referring to Salcedo’s incomprehension when faced with her own work. The critic associates Neither with postmodern concepts of time and history.          


This article by Rod Mengham (b. 1953) was included in the book published on the occasion of Doris Salcedo’s solo exhibition (1958) at the White Cube Gallery in London in 2004. Mengham’s review identifies constants and changes between Salcedo’s recent work (since 2000) and her earlier output. It provides in-depth interpretations of the work she produced for the Istanbul Biennial in 2003 and of her project Neither, especially in terms of current realities (such as the prison at Guantanamo, Cuba), experiences, and events. Mengham describes her work in great detail and discusses the individual and group effort it took to produce and install. Although Neither had not yet been produced when Salcedo was interviewed by Hans-Michael Herzog in 2004, the report of that interview is an important complement to this article (Cf. Herzog, “Doris Salcedo.” Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Arte Colombiano Contemporáneo [Colombian Songs Stories, Contemporary Colombian Art] (Zurich: Daros-Latinoamérica, 2004), 141-72.

Margarita Malagón
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
© Carlos Basualdo and Rod Mengham, London, UK