Colombian artist Doris Salcedo accepted the Velazquez prize in Madrid on Sunday, saying in her acceptance speech that she sees the award “as a recognition of the victims of political violence whose testimonies shape it.”
The 51-year-old sculptor is the first woman to win the prestigious visual art award, which was announced in May.
The artist said that all her work comes out of her home country Colombia, “a country in war” which seems without end.
“Colombia has always been described in negative terms, as an uncivilized place, undeveloped, irrational and brutal. And it is this character that has shaped the negative story that I seek to articulate in my work: the history of the vanquished.”
Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne, praised Salcedo’s art for leaving “the door open to doubt and the inviolable freedom of opinion;” offering no easy answers “because injustice has no answers.”
Salcedo’s piece “Shibboleth,” a large jagged crack running through the floor of the Turbine Hall in London’s Tate Modern gallery, explored issues of immigration and racial divisions, according to the artist.
She says that her work intends to “open and make public the repressed memory of the victims,” and attain “truth and reconciliation.”
The Velazquez prize was established in 2002, and comes with an award of €125,000