Irrigación by Teresa Margolles
Ballroom Marfa collaborated with Chalk the Block — a downtown El Paso public arts initiative — to install our recently commissioned video work by Teresa Margolles, Irrigación. Originally installed in Ballroom Marfa’s south gallery for the exhibition In Lieu of Unity, we worked with Kate Bonansinga, the director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and her students to realize the installation in El Paso.
Teresa Margolles’ practice exposes the current violence in Mexico, specifically along the Northern border. Irrigación involved documenting a moving image of a water truck on the road between Alpine, TX and Marfa, TX. Margolles filmed the truck from behind as it dispensed 5000 gallons of water mixed with blood, excrement, and other bodily matter that the artist collected from multiple sites of violence in Cd. Juarez. The automobile procession notes the waste of life to the waste of water in the desert.
The artist also selected various issues of Mexican periodicals that featured violence on their front page. All of them were published during the first quarter of 2010 when more than 500 people were murdered in Cd. Juarez. Each paper is preserved and presented in a forensic bag such as that used to gather evidence at a crime scene.
Teresa Margolles was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico is 1963 and currently resides in Madrid, Spain. Her art education took place at La Dirección de Fomento a la Cultura Regional del Estado de Sinaloa. She holds a Communications Science degree from Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and a diploma in Forensic Services awarded by SEMEFO (Spanish acronym for MEdical Forensic Services). For the past 20 years Margolles has been very active in the art scene and earned awards for many of her projects. In 2009 she represented Mexico in La Biennale di Venezia.
Margolles states, “The power of art scares me so much. I realized that I didn’t know how to talk about human loss, human pain. I thought my own pain was the most important, but then I discovered that there is collective pain. I am frightened by death, by what’s happening in the world. I am scared of the twin tower falling, I’m scared of war. It really scares me to work in the morgue because the people there know what pain is. Although I must say that working with live people is much harder than working with dead people, and even more painful.” – As quoted by Santiago Sierra in Bomb Magazine in 2004
Special thanks to Susan Kim and Kate Bonansinga and her students for all their help.