THE PERIPHERY OF THE AGONY: TERESA MARGOLLES
Mexican artist, Teresa Margolles, transfers the space of death to the sphere of art, a metaphor par excellence of the border, of a limit that paradoxically is reached only when we are no longer and, therefore, we will no longer be able to tell it. An attempt to counter addiction and impotence in the face of daily tragedies such as gender violence or the exploitation of illegal immigration, caused by the inaction of governments and by a melodramatic or sensationalistic media exploitation.
The Periphery of the Agony project presented at the Slaughterhouse in Rome is configured through an environmental installation that occupies the entire pavilion 9B and a series of actions that are articulated gradually and without a regular cadence throughout the duration of the exhibition, permeating both the interior of the exhibition space which, above all, the urban space of the city.
The interior of the pavilion is occupied by a perimeter of industrial red plastic curtains that is conceived as a body pierced, wounded, stabbed, crossed and traversable and, at the same time, as a limbo in which everything is waiting, full of questions. without any concrete feedback and free from any certainty or reassurance as to what will happen or what could happen. Within this perimeter, a large backlit table houses a twenty-three meter long canvas used in the past to cover the bodies of murdered people, marking a synaesthetic path in which the public is invited to walk peripherally around the agony of the other. This canvas becomes a sort of cenotaph in which the violence suffered that it documents casts its shadow on us, highlighting how the dynamics, problems and justifications that legitimize those violent acts are much closer than we believe. An atmosphere of suspension that refers, on the one hand, to the structuring of the project itself in which the unpredictability predominates and, on the other, to the desperation and disappearance of thousands of people on the border between Mexico and the United States, understood as paradigmatic example of the innumerable frontiers, visible and invisible, existing in the world.
This environment is inhabited at irregular intervals by actions or their documentation. The mapping of the places where murders took place in the city of Rome is activated by participants who mark the ground with water and absorb the material of each scene with a sponge, collecting the traces that remain and making us all witnesses of what happened. The canvas, the epicenter of the exhibition, is raised to cast its shadow on the floor. These are just some of the actions that in most cases arise spontaneously, as the urgency of a specific moment, of a vision, of a concrete event and which, together with others, recompose the fragments of a general image crumbled by an alarming aggression that is often anesthetized, hidden, ignored.
In this way, Teresa Margolles becomes a witness of pain and violence to preserve the memory of those who are no longer there and pass on her story, to recognize her identity and help avoid the most important enemies with which the victims and their families clash: the lack of information on deaths, the impunity of those responsible, the negligence of the authorities in investigations, the fear that causes oblivion, the destruction of the domestic balance and the inevitable transformation of the physiognomy of a city. However, the works become aesthetically reassuring and seductive allegories; mangled bodies or corpses are never presented. It is then that the trap for the visitor is triggered. Only the power of her imagination can lend a momentary presence to the inconceivable. Unaware he approaches, observes, he reads, becomes aware of the drama, the tragedy and it is at that point that he is called to elaborate, to reconstruct, to arrange, through a process of direct, emotional, cognitive and sensorial involvement. Only in that instant does the visitor become witness and spectator, victim and executioner, innocent and guilty, stranger and accomplice and only at that point must he take the responsibility of deciding, not to linger, not to ignore, not to remain impassive.
Teresa Margolles (Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, 1963) is a visual artist who examines the causes and social consequences of death through works of art that focus on the themes of violence, gender and alienation. Her work criticizes the incomprehensibility of contemporary society and a social and economic order that makes violent deaths normal. Teresa Margolles is one of the artists who most dealt with the theme of the brutality of the war between drug traffickers and law enforcement agencies in the Mexican Republic, creating works from which a firm condemnation of violence and what it produces in the families of the victims, in the communities and in urban space.
MATTATOIO DI ROMA
Roma, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4