Teresa Margolles

13 May 2014
Teresa Margolles, Papeles de la morgue [#9] (2003), water drawing on fabriano paper with water that has been used to wash dead bodies after autopsy, 50 x 70 cm (19 5/8 x 27 1/2 ins.) Unframed. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich


Teresa Margolles (b. 1963, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico) lives and works in Mexico City. Her work has been shown in numerous international museums and biennials. Recent solo exhibitions include Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland (2014), Glasgow Sculpture Studios (2012) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010). In 2009, she represented Mexico at the Venice Biennale and in 2012 she won the fifth Artes Mundi prize.

Margolles’ work focuses on the rituals and systems at play in the management of death. It turns an unflinching gaze at the realities of death and frequently uses the by-products of forensic processes, such as water used to wash dead bodies in morgues. These materials are used to produce sculptures, installations and performances that provide a poignant and visceral comment on her country’s attitudes towards death and the extreme violence perpetrated in areas such as Northern Mexico, where cartel wars and murders of women are endemic.

For the series of Papeles de la morgue, Margolles pulled a sheet of watercolour paper slowly through water previously used to wash corpses after autopsy. Organic substances such as blood, fat and hair which made their way to the body’s surface in the course of the examination cling to the absorbent paper. By immersing the paper in the water used to wash a body, the artist has created abstract and extremely moving anonymous portraits of the dead.

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2014


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