Walking through the crack floor, my whole body system worked simultaneously! Both my legs and heart struggled hard against one another in overcoming my height phobia and avoiding the danger of “falling off” while my brain constantly reminded myself that this is not real – has the profound effect of the installation been partly achieved? Definitely yes!
The work by 1958-born Colombian sculptor, Doris Salcedo zigzagged the full 167 meters at Tate Modern, which ended early April has caused a “rift” in the cavernous hall as it created a hairline crack in the concrete floor of the hall, as it snaked across the room in width and depth. When you peered down to look deep into the void, the sides of the interior are covered with wire mesh of a kind that was used to seal off borders and control crowds
However the enigmatic effect didn’t end here and what important is the message of this crack. According to the sculptor, this is a statement about racism, with the crack representing the gap between white Europeans and the rest of the humanity. The wire mesh as dividing line represents borders, “it depicts the experience of immigrants, of the segregation and of racial hatred,” she said. It becomes negativity and is a piece in which illegal immigrants occupy.
Hence, the other side of the enigmatic effect became raging inside me – humanitarian issue. A cleverly crafted installation has raised the fundamental awareness regardless of our age and background. It bears the scar of our living society and it happens every minute, every part of the world. I felt insignificant while standing there. Looking at the scattered crowd around me – only if we could do something and “mend” the crack together… Would the sculptor want us to do that? I do not know but how it was being installed there in the first place remains unknown.
And the word “Shibboleth” comes from the Bible – a word in which your own tribe can pronounce, a test of authenticity to separate friends from foes. Philosophical subject. My heart bounced even harder than before as I left the hall… I look forward to seeing the second part of “Shibboleth” – another word but a positive crack, only if there is.
Doris Salcedo “Shibboleth”
Date: October 9th 2007 – April 6th, 2008
Place: Tate Modern Turbine Hall
Address: Bankside, London SE1 9T
Tel: +44 (0)20 7887 8888
Photos: Courtesy of Tate Modern © Doris Salcedo