Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teresa Margolles

"Now I won't show the physical horror, but silence. I have tried to clean my pieces and speak with the minimum amount of elements."

37 cuerpos / 37 Bodies [2007]
Thread / Remnants of threads used after the autopsy to sew up bodies of persons who have suffered a violent death. Each thread represents a body, Length 1240 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich.

Tarjetas para picar cocaina

"I would give addicts these cards, and when they turned them around they would see the mage of this dead body. This shows that the consumer is also part of this circle. You don't feel responsible of (for) this death, but you are part of this chain of death."


"This is a tongue that belonged to an adolescent that was murdered. This body was going to be given to the morgue. I showed his Mom my work and said to his Mom the tongue of her son could speak for a lot adolescents that had been killed in Mexico."

"A morgue for me is a thermometer of a society. What happens inside a morgue is what happens outside. The way people die show me what is happening in the city. The morgue in Brasil was full of children, and the morgue in Mexico City was full of bodies that had not been identified, because there is not enough resources to cover a funeral."

On The Air [2003]

"Each bubble is a body."

In the main hall of the museum, soap bubbles are churned into the air by machines. An installation of ethereal beauty, En el aire (2003), turns on us with shocking vengeance when we learn that the water in these soap bubbles comes from the morgue and has been used to clean dead bodies prior to autopsy. For the spectator, the fact that the water has been disinfected is no longer relevant. The difference between the soap bubble before and after the information as to the water’s origin is the difference between the living body and the dead one.

Like a horrifying return from death, the bubbles serve as reminders of life destroyed; at the same time, breaking on our skin, they confirm our own vitality: Whereas motifs of Vanitas traditionally remind us of our mortality, the work of Teresa Margolles reminds us that we are alive.



¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? / What Else Could We Talk About? Venice Biennale 2009

The works presented at the Mexican Pavilion are a subtle chronicle of the effects of a devilish international economy: the vicious circle of prohibition, addiction, accumulation, poverty, hatred and repression that transmogrifies the transgresive pleasures and puritan obsessions of the North into the South as Hell.

Due to the recent upsurge of violence in Mexico ─ according to the press, in 2008 more than 5000 people lost their lives in executions and shootings related to drug trafficking and its combat ─ Teresa Margolles’s work, that for almost two decades has concentrated in the exploration of the artistic possibilities of human remains, has put an increasing emphasis in the meditation on violent death and its victims.

Margolles most recent work involve a subtle and moving chronicle of the pervasive economy of death that plagues the north of Mexico.

¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? will be a narrative based on tactics of contamination and material actions, which will seek to emotional and intellectually involve the visitors in the issues surrounding the way violence and the current global economy involve the effective declaration of whole generations of individuals as a virtually disposable social class, trapped in between the perverse logic of criminality, capitalism and prohibition. The Pavillion project will be accompanied by a number of public actions which will extend the concept of her participation to the venues of the Venice Biennale and the city.


"[Margolles] interrupts the art space by bringing in these materials that are really charged, which traces the relationship between death and power. It's about necropolitics, and the eruption of necropolitics in the art sphere."
Cuauhtémoc Medina Gonzalez, curator of the Mexico Pavillion at the venice Biennale 2009. [cited at Intersections – Daniel Hernandez.]


21 Scores Settled / Malverde's Jewelry

"There are a total of 21 “Score Settlings,” 21 pieces of jewelry - rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, earrings, etc. - that Teresa Margolles had made at Joyería Anne in the Rafael Buelna market, a place situated in downtown Culiacán, where small establishments supply all sorts of accessories to low-income people. This location abets and is a venue for drug trafficking.

In an exercise of displacement, far from the noisy streets with its masses, the artist presented this series in November 2008 at the Galería Salvador Díaz in Madrid and at Art Positions - Art Basel Miami Beach in December of the same year. The pieces of jewelry were exhibited in a solemn, dark, even elegant, atmosphere; each piece occupied a dramatically lit black pedestal showcase. On this occasion, the artist’s intervention consisted of generating a collection of glass fragments that she took from crime scenes and later used to replace precious stones in pieces of jewelry. Thus, Malverde’s “glow” is, curiously, ill gotten. It is the result of a tragedy that Mexican politicians have called: 'The fight against organized crime.'"

Positions 08 Art Basel Miami 2008


In using the resources and effects of the Sinaloan drug trade, producing the jewellery via businesses that depend on and service the drug economy, as well as the figure of the narco saint Jesus Malverde and then placing/selling it within the commercial art world, it might be said that Margolles is 'infecting' the art market with the drug economy – implicating the narco dollars operating inside the Art World.



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