This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.
Mexican-born artist Teresa Margolles had built an impressive body of work interrogating the physical legacy of the deceased. She has, in the past, repurposed the water used in a morgue to wash corpses to makes bubbles, humidify a room, or simply let it drip from the ceiling. She has washed watercolor paper in the runoff from organic waste of dead bodies, and displayed the remains of a stillborn child, encased in a concrete block. In their immediate reception, each of these works first triggers a sort of physical revulsion; an almost palpable desire to flee. Once it becomes clear, however, that all necessary safety precautions have been taken - the viewer is left holding only their own superstitions and squeamishness, why this terrible fear of physical transference between the dead and ourselves? Further, Margolles draws on her own home, torn apart by the drug trade, to explore the ways in which the patterns of death and dying repeat the social inequalities of the living. Margolles will speak Thursday on this, and other topics, at the Museum of Modern Art. The talk begins at 6:30.