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Teresa Margolles
Sobre la sangre



Collaborators of the artist  Rafael Burillo and Antonio de la Rosa
Technical crew  Paolo Morelli, Alice Mollica and Giacomo Citti

2017 Margolles 01

“Sobre la sangre” is the exhibition by Teresa Margolles on gender hatred, which will be exhibited at the SPE –Performance and Exhibition Space at Tenuta Dello Scompiglio from 25 March to 25 June 2017, curated by Francesca Guerisoli and Angel Moya Garcia.

Teresa Margolles (born Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, 1963 – lives and works in Madrid) is a visual artist, who examines the causes and the social consequences of death, destruction and civil war. The artist is well known for creating artworks focused on the themes of violence, gender and alienation. Her work criticises the social and economic orders that make certain violent deaths normal, transgressing social and artistic conventions and underlining the complicity of the government in generating violence and poverty. As an individual and through SEMEFO (Forensic Medical Service), a group founded in Mexico City in 1990 and active for a decade, Teresa Margolles has been at the forefront of artists that have addressed the subject of war brutality between drug traffickers and law enforcement agencies in the Federal Republic of Mexico, creating works from which emerge a resolute condemnation towards the violence and what it produces in the families of the victims, in the community and in the urban space.

The artist has developed a personal language like an intradiegetic narrator, a witness for the silent subjects and the victims defined as “collateral damage”, often unnamed and therefore treated only as a number. Subtle and seductive, her works initially offer a pleasant aesthetic experience, which soon, however, becomes something else. An example was her solo exhibition “¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar?” for the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. There, among the various actions and installations, the visitor found sheets used to cover the cadavers of victims of drug trafficking, then later, in an exhibition hall, in which relatives of the victims of violent death mopped the floor with water mixed with the blood of those victims. This intimate closeness to the materials of death often provokes a visceral shock that initiates a deeper interrogation on particular social problems. Another example was the work exhibited at Manifesta 11, the European biennial of contemporary art in Zurich in 2016, in which the artist organised a series of meetings with transsexual sex workers in Zurich and Ciudad Juárez.

The exhibition “Sobre la sangre” is part of this context of gender violence and comprises the touring installation “Frazada (La Sombra), the large canvas that lends its title to the exhibition “Wila Patjharu / Sobre la sangre” and the new site-specific installation “Il Testimone”. In its complexity and articulation, the exhibition entirely transforms the architecture of the exhibition space at Scompiglio, altering the physical and perceptual characteristics, transporting the visitor to a dark and labyrinthine environment that totally envelopes them.

The starting point is the itinerant installation “Frazada (La Sombra) (2016), created for the Bolivian Biennale in 2016, which will travel around the squares of Lucca on its opening day and it will subsequently be set up in the outside spaces of the Tenuta Dello Scompiglio. The installation is made of a sheet mounted on a 1.9m high metal structure usually used for market stalls. The sheet was salvaged from the morgue at La Paz and it is soaked with the blood of a female victim of femicide, causing discomfort to anyone who uses its shade to get relief from the heat on sunny days, as they only gradually become aware of the strong odour of blood emanating from it. With “Frazada” Teresa Margolles gives us a picture of the shadow of gender violence that, in Bolivia, according to the National Institute of Statistics, affects as much as 87% of women.

The heart of the show, in the exhibition space, is the large canvas “Wila Patjharu / Sobre la sangre” (2017), in this case, saturated with the blood of ten femicide victims of La Paz and subsequently embroidered by seven local artisans of the ethnic group Aymara using traditional decorative technics of Bolivian folk dance costumes. It appears much like the way that folklore and tradition often succeed in covering, concealing and transforming a daily tragic realty into ornament. Floral motifs and corporals embellished with sequins, beads and bright-coloured threads, line a synaesthetic, 25-metre pathway, along which the public, enveloped in semi-darkness, is guided in a walk of confrontation with their own convictions and ethical and aesthetic securities to the sound of their own footsteps.

These footsteps lead to the third installation in the exhibition, titled “Il Testimone” (2017), and realized specifically for this show. The environment is configured like a perimeter corridor in semi-darkness, in which are arranged audio traces and two photographs that depict Karla and La Gata, two transsexual prostitutes who died prematurely in the Mexican city, Ciudad Juárez. The audio recordings revolve around refusal and social reluctance, experiences and broken dreams. The former, killed at age 67 in 2015 and the latter at 32 in 2016, paid with their lives for the gender hatred borne by not only their killers, but also the institutions. Being transsexual, prostitutes and poor, makes these deaths that do not count. As Judith Butler says in her essay, “Precarious Life: the Powers of Mournig and Violence”: “Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? And finally, what makes for a grievable life?”

Teresa Margolles (born 1963 in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico) has exhibited in numerous museums, institutions and international foundations. Among the major exhibitions: Dallas Biennial, 2017, Biennial of Bolivia, 2016, Neuberger Museum of Art, Acquisto, NY, USA 2015; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, 2014; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2014; Principe Claus Fund, Amsterdam, 2012; Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Città del Messico, 2012; Museo de Arte Moderno, Città del Messico, 2011; Museion, Bolzano, 2011; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 2010; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 2010; La Biennale di Venezia, Mexican Pavilion, Venezia, 2009.

Teresa Margolles, Sobre la sangre

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