Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper and Animations
By Katie Dalla, Forum Poetry Editor
It’s not often that an art exhibit representing a country goes to the extent of actually showcasing remains of its own citizens.
No, nobody’s limbs were severed and put on a podium, but Teresa Margolles’ vibrant yet grotesque 2003 piece, Papeles, brings you bodily fluids in a surprisingly beautiful arrangement.
The piece takes up a whole wall and displays large rectangular sheets containing streaked patterns of brown and yellow hues that, juxtaposed together, bring to mind the splendor of a moth’s wings. But the beauty is met with an equal amount of repulsion: Margolles used the post- autopsy water from the victims of narcoviolencia—or those individuals that experienced the fatal repercussions of drug trafficking. The water came right from the Mexico City morgue.
Each paper represents an individual portrait of a person and their remaining traces of life. You can’t help but feel a bit tricked — your first feeling is sheer warmth from the luminosity and size of the work, but as you step in closer to read the details, you immediately get a lump in your throat and feel the need to back away slowly, frantically searching for mutual glances of horror from the other onlookers. Margolles’ bold statement effectively demands a reaction to an ongoing issue that has caused so many deaths and so much strife in Mexico. She also gives an odd vibrance to each portrait as she has, in fact, captured their final essence, and in the most direct way possible, Margolles brings a part of Mexico to you.