Teresa Margolles is a visual artist who examines the social causes and consequences of death, destruction, displacement, discrimination and misery. While she is widely known for her group of works that focus on the social and economic conditions caused by drug traffic and the invloved acts of crime, in the last four years the focus of her artistic practice involves border conflicts, immigration and extreme inequality in society. 

The specific conflicts that she adresses, e.g. in her home country Mexico, on the border region between Colombia and Venezuela or in the Atacama region in Chile, appear at first glance to be local problems, but nevertheless can be read as representative of the world. 
Trained in communication sciences and forensic medicine, Margolles has developed a unique and restrained language in order to speak for those victims of violence, poverty and alienation, discounted in statistics as nameless numbers or ‘collateral damage’. Her artistic practice ranges from photography and video work to large-scale installations, sculptures and performances including threads, fabrics, plaster, clay and liquids that contain blood and residues from dead bodies or have been in direct contact with those.
Subtle and minimal, Margolles’ works initially often offer a pleasant aesthetic experience. Viewers walk through a space filled with hovering soap bubbles, before realising that they are made of the water from the morgue (En el Aire (In the Air), 2003). A single line of delicately coloured and knotted fabric is made of threads, stained with body fluids, that were used in the autopsies of murder victims (127 cuerpos (127 Bodies), 2006). Margolles‘ contribution for the Mexican Pavilion of the 2009 Venice Biennale (¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? (¿What else could we talk about?), 2009) brought togehter fabrics used to cover the corpses of victims of drug trafficking and jewellery made of shards of glass from street shootings. In another room of the Palazzo men and women who have lost a relative washed the marble floor with a mixture of water and blood from murdered people. Margolles‘ series We have a common thread, 2013 - 2015 features beautifully embroidered fabrics stained with blood of murdered women and crafted by local female artesanians in Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala and Bolivia. Such intimate proximity to the material of death produces visceral shock and psychic fear that initiates profound self and social interrogation.
On the other hand it is the dialogue with people whose existence runs full of hardship or persecuted minorities in society that interests the artist. Transsexual sexworkes, immigrants, abused woman and miners have been actively invloved in the artists‘ production and performances, opening up an intellectual exchange of importance. For Manifesta 11, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Margolles initiated an encounter between transsexual sex workers from Zurich and Juarez, Mexico, creating a reflective conversation about the rather diverse lives and working conditions of the sex workers in the two countries (Póker de Damas (Ladies Poker), 2016). For her ongoing project in the border region between San Antonio de Táchira, Venezuela and San José de Cúcuta, Colombia, where the artist engaged with the sites and subjects of forced migration, she encountered and interviewed houndreds of local men and women who have migrated to Cucutá, Colombia. Due to lack of employment, both women and men are forced to work as „carretilleros“ (porters), carrying heavy goods at the frontier bridge Simón Bolivar. During her three trips to Chile since 2018 and 2019, the artist continued her research on extreme enaquality in society with the cooperation of inhabitants of Santiago, Copiapó and Inca de Oro in Chile.
Selected works
Selected exhibitions

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