The artwork Fragmentos (fragments) was built by the artist Doris Salcedo and the architect Carlos Granada in Bogota, Colombia in 2018. It seeks to create a space for present and future generations to reflect on Colombian conflict history, which left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced in the last five decades. Consequently, Salcedo and Granada decided to build an impressive and impeccable artwork in the same place in two ways: The first one, a gray floor constructed with melted rifles delivered by former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as part of the peace agreement in 2016, and the second one, a new space configured in a colonial and ruined house.

Fragmentos becomes a Colombian heritage as it puts silenced voices at the center as an essential step to achieving equity and reconciliation, reflecting on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Melted rifles floor and ruins. Fragmentos. Image courtesy of Granada Garces Arquitectos

Fragmentos rejects narratives that exalt warfare and weapons while remembering the nation's tragic loss, which is why it was considered an “anti-monument” by Salcedo and Granada with the idea of building something invisible, horizontal and without hierarchy. Salcedo points out that “we all lost the war and are all war survivors. War does not allow triumphs,” in an interview with ArtNexus.  So, the ruin and the void remind us of the absence and loss of the war in our memory and identity. The architect claims as well that “it is necessary to ruin the monument for it to become interesting, as this marks the difference between memory and the linear narrative of history. The ruin is the articulation of an architectural dialogue between the place of memory, the floor from which Colombians begin to look at the future and the ruin that reminds us of the emptiness and absence left by the war.”

Room 3. Fragmentos. Image courtesy of Granada Garces Arquitectos.

In the development of the artwork, Salcedo presents, as in her previous works,  the idea of finding the possibility of integrating political awareness with sculpture and mental archaeology. She always has incorporated domestic materials into her artworks with meanings accumulated over years of domestic life and specific historical events or testimonies from individuals who have fallen victim to the conflict war. "The important task for an artist here is to try to give society tools of mourning. Art cannot explain things, but at least art can expose them," according to Salcedo.

For that reason, blending memory and art with empty and exhibition space, the architectural promenade occupies the negative (empties) of what was formerly the house, inverting the inside with the outside and encapsulating the ancient ruins of a house as if they were relics.  A single corridor articulates three rooms. From the beginning, the hallway becomes a garden and then, the walker ascends to other levels by ramps following the foundation levels of the ruins. According to Granada, it was essential to convert the ruins into spaces for art and contemplation with gardens of native and jungle vegetation representative of Colombia.

End of the walk and last garden. Fragmentos. Image courtesy of Granada Garces Arquitectos.

Fragmentos was nominated for the 2022 Mies Crown Hall Americas Award for the creation of a space that, through art and social work, promotes reflection on the memories of the armed conflict in Colombia. According to the artist Salcedo, “the physical and conceptual support on which we can face the future and the new reality in which we live.” In a certain way, the artwork Fragmentos portrays the heritage of all Colombians because we all carry some fragment of war memory in our country, like our history, landscape, territory, community and facts that unite us.

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