Critics’ Picks

Teresa Margolles, The Promise, 2012, performance view.


Teresa Margolles

Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M)
Avda. Constitución, 23
February 18–May 25

In her attempts to gauge the drug-related violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Teresa Margolles shifts from a human body count to an architectural one. The exhibition “El testigo” (The Witness) grounds Margolles’s more recent works with the gut-wrenching PM2010, 2012, a side-by-side survey of an entire year’s worth of covers of the popular newspaper PM. Cheesecake shots of Paris Hilton and Jennifer Aniston cushion front-page photos of decapitated heads and mutilated bodies, victims of drug violence in what would be the city’s bloodiest year ever. (The November 10, 2010, headline triumphantly reports that there was only one murder the previous day.) This Property Won’t Be Demolished, 2009–2013, considers the architectural casualties with a series of thirty photographs of recently abandoned buildings, from private residences to hamburger stands and tuxedo-rental shops.

Margolles offers a moment to mourn with The Promise, 2012. Adding water to several tons of dust (the remains of a demolished house), the artist has shaped the now-pliable material into a horizontal monolith. Each day, the artist’s agents enter the gallery and run their hands along the object as they channel the emotions compacted in its history. Over time, the monolith crumbles under their touch, so that by the show’s end the room should appear empty, save a thin coat of rubble spread across the floor. The exhibition is structured as a loop, with the entrance and the exit flanking an image of a linden tree in the center of Ciudad Juárez. This is el testigo, “the witness” of the show’s title. Despite the bullets lodged in its trunk, it is still standing and it is still growing.