I was looking at friend Kevin’s Flickr pics and saw these:
Photos of Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth at the Tate Modern in London. I love the pictures, and after reading a little about the piece I love the sculpture even more.
Salcedo is addressing a long legacy of racism and colonialism that underlies the modern world. A ‘shibboleth’ is a custom, phrase or use of language that acts as a test of belonging to a particular social group or class. By definition, it is used to exclude those deemed unsuitable to join this group.
‘The history of racism’, Salcedo writes, ‘runs parallel to the history of modernity, and is its untold dark side’. For hundreds of years, Western ideas of progress and prosperity have been underpinned by colonial exploitation and the withdrawal of basic rights from others. Our own time, Salcedo is keen to remind us, remains defined by the existence of a huge socially excluded underclass, in Western as well as post-colonial societies.
In breaking open the floor of the museum, Salcedo is exposing a fracture in modernity itself. Her work encourages us to confront uncomfortable truths about our history and about ourselves with absolute candidness, and without self-deception.
Living in Crown Heights (a neighborhood synonymous nationwide with race riots) makes me extra hungry for anything that speaks to the presence of racism in our world. Being part of a tiny white minority, feeling the weight of my skin and privilege and education, trying not to impose, trying to connect… feels very much like trying to avoid giant cracks in the sidewalk.