Under the title Frontera, Margolles is presenting works which reflect the frightening extent to which the drug war is influencing Mexican society, they also engage with the general taboo on death and violence. Using reduced but always drastic means, Teresa Margolles creates extremely poignant works of art. At first glance, her works often seem to be minimalist in their form. Viewers only discover that they are deeply emotional and dramatic when they become aware of the rigorous realism in the choice of material.

The large painterly exterior work Frontera on the outer façade of the Fridericianum envelops the entire building. 40 lengths of cloth dipped in soil and bodily fluids will make the Fridericianum ‘bleed’ when subjected to weather influences. Margolles uses substances such as blood, body fat or even water used to wash dead corpses not only symbolically, but also palpably, attacking human beings’ fears of contact in a subtle way. Margolles confronts visitors directly with death by having water used for washing corpses taken from a Mexican autopsy room drip on to a hot steel plate in the exhibition space, thus making death perceptible both olfactorily and atmospherically. In addition, she is putting up two walls in the Kassel exhibition which she has had removed from Mexican cities and replaced with new walls. The man-high concrete-block walls are witnesses of daily violence: they display bullet holes resulting from shoot-outs that have had a lasting impact on cities such as Ciudad Juárez, where the drug war is raging with particular vehemence.

Margolles also shows relics of victims of criminal violence, presenting glass display cabinets with jewellery of shot police officers, government officials, passers-by and tourists. While the golden watches, earrings, chains and bracelets are draped as though on display in a jewellery store, as vanitas symbols the valuables directly refer to the sudden, unexpected deaths of these people. For another sculptural work she bought structural steel scrap from razed neighbourhoods on the black market and melted the material into a minimalist cube. Weighing one tonne, this cube is a maximally compressed symbol of suffering and decay in Mexico.

In her filmic work, she documents places with no future in a disturbing way; a poor quarter in the north of Mexico as well as three boys vying for attention from the camera. In two videos, Margolles shows performances at schoolyards in Guadalajara and Ciudad Juárez, drawing attention to the absence of the many young people murdered in a single month. These new video works add the theme of hopelessness in Mexican towns bordering the USA to the exhibition.

A catalogue is published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König. Frontera is realised in collaboration with Museion, Bolzano, and was on view from 27 May to 21 August 2011 at the Museion.


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