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Doris Salcedo's "Mute Prayer" opens at Maxxi in Rome
Doris Salcedo frequently uses everyday objects in her work, laden with the lives of the protagonists of the stories told.
ROME.- Doris Salcedo has cracked the floor of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London (2007), walled up a room of the Castello di Rivoli near Turin (2005) and filled the “human void” left by the destruction of a building in Istanbul with over 1,500 chairs (2003): an artist of vast expressive strength, a sculptor of memory and life, of poverty and of dignity. At MAXXI she is presenting her most recent work, the installation Plegaria Muda, a message of pain but also and above all of hope (from the 15th of March to the 24th of June 2012).

The remarkably expressive and emotive exhibition in Rome has been organized by MAXXI Arte, and curated by Monia Trombetta. It is part of a traveling project organized by Isabel Carlos, commissioned by the CAM Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian of Lisbon and by the Moderna Museet of Malmö and produced in partnership with MAXXI, the MUAC – University Museum of Contemporary Art of Mexico City and the Pinacoteca do Estado of Sao Paolo. As with the artist thought twenty units of the roman installation will enter the permanent collection of MAXXI Arte. Thursday 15 March at 17.30, Doris Salcedo meets the museum public, in a conversation with Carlos Basualdo, MAXXI Arte’s curator at large (MAXXI Auditorium, admittance free).

Doris Salcedo frequently uses everyday objects in her work, laden with the lives of the protagonists of the stories told. Plegaria Muda is an installation composed of over one hundred pairs of wooden tables, in which each one is turned over another, from which thin blades of grass emerge. In its modular repetition, the work evokes a collective burial place and is a metaphor for sacrificial lives led on the margins of society. The artist has found inspiration by turning her gaze to the victims of massacres by the army in Colombia, her home country, as well as the violent deaths of the Los Angeles suburbs, where she conducted research and recognized the effects of the same gratuitous and meaningless violence found in every corner of the globe. Plegaria Muda is a prayer for those people who, in situations of poverty, have no voice to speak of their existence and hence appear not to exist.

However, Plegaria Muda is also, and above all, a tribute to life: from the tables/coffins of this never celebrated funeral ritual that restores humanity to all profaned lives, plants grow to symbolize life and resurrection because, as the artist writes, “I hope that, in spite of everything, even in difficult conditions, life may win… as happens in Plegaria Muda.”

Plegaria Muda is itself a living work of art: the smell of the damp earth and the fresh grass and the labyrinth disposition of the tables that discourages set paths, emerges the audience in an intense and all-encompassing experience involving the mind, body and senses. The emotive impact is strong and generates strong emotions, mercy, turmoil and hope.

“This is a particularly suggestive work", says Anna Mattirolo, “that relates, like a profoundly moving dance, to MAXXI's architecture and multi-faceted spirit through a process of spatial adaptation that amplifies the emotive and symbolic power of the building. In this setting, Salcedo's work is enriched. MAXXI is hosting a work that not only enhances the space that contains it, but is also capable of establishing with the space a symbiotic relationship of indisputable value.”

A reading room has been installed in the exhibition: catalogues, monographs, descriptions and photographs of the artist’s principal works will introduce the public to Doris Salcedo, as strong and empathic as she is complex.

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