Unland is comprised of three distinct yet related works: Unland: the orphan’s tunic, Unland: irreversible witness, and Unland: audible in the mouth, completed in that order. All three were made in response to interviews Salcedo conducted in northern Colombia with orphaned children who witnessed the murder of their parents. Each of the works joins together two different tables, creating one elongated form, with human hair and raw silk laboriously sewn through thousands of tiny, follicle-like holes drilled into the surfaces. These fractured, dismembered tables allude to an interrupted, broken family and home—resulting in a life held together by the most precarious of means.
The title, Unland, is a word invented by Salcedo to suggest a sense of displacement. She was inspired by the poetry of Paul Celan (Romanian, 1920–1970), whose own words are appropriated for the subtitle of each sculpture. Celan is known for his writings in the aftermath of the Holocaust, a time when language seemed insufficient to address the traumatic events of that era and thereby required reinvention.