13 Aug

[abstract of my critical text: BREAKING BOUNDERIES, for Teresa Margolles - En La Herida solo show at Kunsthalle Krems (2019)]

Art is a laboratory where experiments are conducted that shape thought into visual and imaginative ways of framing the pain points of a culture.
(Ernst van Alphen)

How is contemporary art a product of, or a driving impulse on, history? How does it reflect the society it is created in, and how does it influence our perception of the world and our interaction with it, informing our worldview at large?

In its totality, the work of Teresa Margolles presents itself as a phenomenology of modern society. The artist addresses a diversity of subjects in her work with relentless realism. These include violence, death (mostly in connection with the drug trade), MIGRATION, SOCIAL INJUSTICE, gender discrimination, and CORRUPTION in the POLITICAL and legal SYSTEM.

The installation La Gran América (2017) is a memorial to the nameless MIGRANTS who died trying to cross the border between Mexico and the U.S. Margolles made small clay tiles with mud from the river bank of the Rio Grande (the last piece of land that the migrants saw on their way to the “American dream”); each of them is unique and stands for one life that was lost and deserves not to be forgotten. 

Tela sumergida en pozo de un chircal de Juan Frío (2019). The photograph shows a cloth stained with fluids from the dead body of a person killed on the BORDER between Colombia and Venezuela being dipped in a dug-out hole filled with muddy water.

Muro baleado (2009) is a stretch of concrete brick wall riddled with bullet holes. It bears witness to rampant everyday VIOLENCE in the Mexican city of Culiacán where fighting between federal police and DRUG cartels is particularly intense and merciless. 

The documentary photo series Pistas de Baile (2016) shows TRANSGENDER PROSTITUTES standing on what once were the dance floors of now demolished nightclubs in Ciudad Juárez.

[...] Margolles’s works cast light on these social phenomena and reach out beyond the context of their origin in that they take on universal significance and contribute to critical thinking on the matter in the general public. The result is a visual sociology that aims to sensitize society and heighten public awareness in general.

[...] To conclude, the art of Teresa Margolles can be described as being equally documentary and militant; she is in a position to direct public attention to specific social problems, and in so doing, to move beyond the boundaries of passive lamentation. Her works are a form of ACTIVE FIGHTING and PROPAGANDA with the goal of influencing and sensitizing the general public and prompting critical and conscious collective thought and action. And to answer the question from the opening of this text: the art of Margolles can be rightfully described as being both a product and a driving force of contemporary society.


Tela sumergida en pozo de un chircal de Juan Frío (Fabric submerged in a pit of Juan Frío), 2019
Record of the action where a cloth, which absorbed fluids of a person who was murdered in the frontier, is submerged in a pit
Cucutá, Colombia
Color print
Ed. of 6 (+ 1AP)
157 x 227 cm (61 3/4 x 89 3/8 in.), framed]

Galerie Peter Kilchmann

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