Mexican Artist Gets Political at Venice Biennale


A solo show in the Mexican Pavilion is the unanimous nominee for darkest work included in the vast 2009 Venice Biennale. On view until November 22, Teresa Margolles‘s ¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? (What Else Could We Talk About?) comments on the political division and rampant drug-related violence in Mexico. The artist’s own experience as a founding member of the country’s Forensic Medical Service allowed access to government morgues, giving her space to develop conceptual, socially-based art with bodily substances: cadavers, morgue water, and blood. Disturbing, perhaps, though genuinely thought-provoking. Details on Margolles’s installations at the Mexican Pavilion after the jump, including video.

In the pavilion, located in the 16th century Palazzo Rota Ivancich just steps from St. Mark’s Square, mud and human blood from the sites of “narco” executions in the Sinaloa area of Mexico soak traditional tapestries, cover the palace floors, and mingle with shards of glass fabricated into jewelry. Relatives of victims in the drug war (estimated at over 5,000 last year alone) continuously mop the tiles with blood-infused water, which, by the end of the six-month exhibition, will have formed a viscous layer of human remains.

By exhibiting these macabre artifacts, like notes left by assassins threatening “look, survive, and die,” Margolles’s installation is a blunt admission of the elephant in the room that no one in Mexico can deny, no matter how hard the president, media, and foreign boosters try. Who is counting the dead in the first place? How reliable is the media coverage? Inserting her artistic voice into the vicious cycle of violence, Margolles aims to “‘activate back those materials’ in the face of the art world and the consumers of Mexican-managed drugs in the United States and Europe.”

Teresa Margolles ¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? (What Else Could We Talk About?) 7 June – 22 November 2009