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Sculptor's crack baffles art world

  • Story Highlights
  • Work by Colombian sculptor at London's Tate Modern is crack in concrete floor
  • Doris Salcedo refuses to reveal how she created the huge work of art
  • "Shibboleth" represents gap between white Europeans and the rest of humanity
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LONDON, England -- A Colombian sculptor has created a mystery at London's Tate Modern gallery by refusing to reveal how she seemingly managed to crack open a concrete floor.

"Shibboleth" is Colombian artist Doris Salcedo's first public commission in the United Kingdom.

The work by Doris Salcedo begins as a hairline crack then widens and deepens as it snakes across the full 167 meters (548 feet) of the former power station's Turbine Hall.

Salcedo said "Shibboleth," a statement about racism, took her more than a year to make but has revealed little else about its construction.

She apparently created it elsewhere and spent the past five weeks installing it in the Tate, on the south bank of the River Thames. She refused to say how she managed seemingly to crack open a concrete floor.

"What is important is the meaning of the piece. The making of it is not important," she said.

Asked how deep the crack goes, she replied: "It's bottomless. It's as deep as humanity." Visitors meanwhile are warned not to trip on the crack.

Tate director Nicholas Serota insisted the work was no optical illusion. "This sculpture has been made in the most painstaking, meticulous way by Doris and her team before it was slowly inserted into the Turbine Hall," he told the Press Association.

"It has taken five weeks of work here with very considerable disruption to the hall. It's not an illusion - it's there, it's real.

"From the Tate's point of view, there were only two questions: could we realize it in the way Doris envisaged? And once the piece was created, would it damage the structural integrity of the building forever?

"The answer to the first was yes, and to the second was no." He declined to elaborate further.

The installation will be removed next April by filling in the crack.

Serota said: "There is a crack, there is a line, and eventually there will be a scar and that scar will remain. It will remain as a memory of the work and also as a memorial to the issues Doris touches on."

The artist said the work of art represents the gap between white Europeans and the rest of humanity. Wire mesh is on show because it is "the most common means of control used to define borders and divisions."

Salcedo said of the work: "It represents borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred.

"It is the experience of a Third World person coming into the heart of Europe.

"For example, the space which illegal immigrants occupy is a negative space. And so this piece is a negative space." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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