Doris Salcedo’s haunting artwork *Shibboleth*, a giant crack installed in the floor of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, brought the Colombian artist well-deserved attention in 2007. But most of us are less familiar with her earlier projects, such as her 2003 chair piece titled *Installation for the 8th Istanbul Biennale.* Salcedo's idea was to create a "topography of war"--not tied to a specific historical event, but to war in general. Seeing these 1,550 wooden chairs piled high between two buildings in central Istanbul, I'm reminded of mass graves. Of anonymous victims. I think of both chaos and absence, two effects of wartime violence.
Chairs are an intriguing choice, because they have the power to communicate both absence and human connection. Amassing them in huge quantities is not only visually spectacular, but it also conveys individual experience, as well as the collective.