Described by the artist as a “shroud,” A Flor de Piel is composed entirely of rose petals that have been treated and preserved, in effect suspending them between life and death. Utilizing the same surgical stitching method as in Atrabiliarios, the petals have been sutured together by hand.
The piece developed out of Salcedo’s research into the story of a nurse in Colombia who, after overcoming great obstacles in her life, was kidnapped and tortured to death. The title of the work is an idiomatic Spanish saying used to describe an overt display of emotion, similar to the English expression of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve. Salcedo explains that “A Flor de Piel started with the simple intention of making a flower offering to a victim of torture, in an attempt to perform the funerary ritual that was denied to her.”
“The first stage was investigation, what flower to choose, what color of flower to choose, and how to treat it, how to make it flat, and how to keep the color. That was a very difficult process because there are so many materials to try. The most difficult part was to try to use a flower, which is a living thing, as a material, and to control it as much as possible.”