Teresa Margolles
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La promesa
Demolished walls of a house in Ciudad Juárez.
Variable measurements
42 tons of gravel

La Promesa emerged from this panorama of unfulfilled promises. For this proj-ect, Margolles took an abandoned low-income house in Ciudad Juárez, had it dismantled, and sent the debris to Mexico City, where it was further milled into tiny pieces. The care with which the process was carried out is meant to contrast with the systematic destruction and abandonment to which the city has been subjected. In the exhibition space the installation is activated by a group of people who help to transfer the residue of the house, gradually covering the surface of the hall. The action takes place for one hour each day over six months. An archive comprising videos, texts and articles about the problems raised by the project, together with copies of the city’s news-papers: El Norte, El Diario, El Mexicano and PM (from February to June 2012) is presented in the Arkheia Documentation Center.

Muro baleado
130 pieces of block with bullet holes
213 x 396 cm x 10

Gunned Wall is a piece that the artist produced rescuing an actual wall that separated the garden of a house from the street. The wall was marked by the impact of gunfire in city of Culiacan, Sinaloa.

Pista de baile de la discoteca "La Madelon"
C print on cotton paper
120 x 180cm

Transgender sexual worker standing on the dance floor of a demolished club in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

<1>Proyecto de Parque Infantil
80 x 47 x 85cm
Embalmed horse fetus mounted on an iron structure
1995 - 2003

Recados Póstumos
Color print
110.5 x 137.5cm
Intervention in the marquees of abandoned cinemas with phrases taken from suicidal posthumous notes

Jewlery and inlaid glass
Dimensions variable

Consists of twenty one jewelry pieces: bracelets, bangles, rings, pendants and
necklaces made of 18-karat gold. Instead of having diamond encrustations, the
pieces are encrusted with shards of crystal extracted from the corpses of people who were murdered as a result of score settlements between Mexican drug-dealers. All of these so-called score settlements were carried out in Culiacan, Sinaloa. All the pieces were designed by a jeweler who works for Mexican drug-dealers.

In the Air
Bubbles made with water from the morgue Variable dimensions

In the main hall of the museum, soap bubbles are churned into the air by machines. An installation of ethereal beauty, In the Air, 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.

Bodily fluids contained by a groove in the floor
5.91 x 314.96 x 1.18 inches

After reflecting on the urban social context of the Jumex Collection’s location, I made a groove in the surface of the floor 8 meters long, 15 centimeters wide and 3 centimeters deep, containing the bodily fluids of murder victims. Over the period of the exhibition, the fluids became a scab. This work alludes to the situation of violence and marginalization found in the geographic area.

Steam of water of the morgue
Variable dimensions

´Vaporización/Vaporisation´, a room with coolers to turn water, used for washing corpses and then disinfected, to steam: ´Her performance not only visualised the physical remembrance of the last washing but also the process of dissolution and vanishing - the vanishing of a certain person in the thick fog of a city with more than 20 million denizens.´ (Klaus Biesenbach, in the exhibition catalogue Mexico City. An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values, p. 151). A
notice at the entrance to the foggy room explained the history and harmlessness of the steam.

Untitled (Catafalco)
Organic matter adhered to plaster.
Oxidized metal base
Plaster: 21.26 x 31.5 x 9.45 inches
w/base: 64.17 x 31.5 x 9.45 inches

18K gold and wood chip from Sichuan, China Variable dimensions according to the installation

Escombro is a piece commemorating the natural disaster caused by an earthquake in the city of Sichuan, China, on May 12, 2008. This phenomenon left 1.37 million displaced, 64,197 dead and 18,263 disappeared.
These statistics have been written in Chinese by a local craftsman on each side of the pyramid. The top of the pyramid holds a small wood chip that the artist collected from the top of a hill, which she climbed to be able to look at the entire disaster.
In some way, the contrast between the magnitude of an event of this scale and its representation in a small and delicate jewellery piece has powerful poetic resonance.


Culiacan, Mexico, 1974.
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.

Since belonging to the group SEMEFO, whose name is derived from the forensic medical service, the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles has chosen as her atelier, first the morgue and the dissecting room, and more recently, the violence-ridden streets of Mexico. These are places of death but also places which bear witness to social unrest in what may be the world’s biggest metropolis, Mexico City.

Margolles works not so much directly with the remains of bodies but rather with the traces of life, with shrouds, burial and memory, and with the way a violent act shatters human networks and affects them in various levels. The nameless and anonymous victims draw attention to inhuman relationships in modern overcrowded societies.

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Summer ShowAug 10, 2018
LABOR, LABOR.Nov 01, 2009