By Dorota Kozinska

 
The Mexican-born artist, true to Marshall McLuhan's famous phrase, 'the medium is the message', employs her chosen medium as if it were an indispensable part of the visual message, and indeed, her relationship with it influences how that message is transmitted, and perceived.

McLuhan - Canadian professor, philosopher and intellectual - also divided the media into "hot" and "cold", with photography, especially in the hands of Margolles, being designated as muy caliente. Her images are raw and unforgiving, fifteen pieces that are as compelling as they are disturbing, all created in this decade, together with some works never shown before.

Mundos, one of the largest exhibitions of Margolles' work in North America, draws its material from inside the morgue of Ciudad Juárez, a murderous Mexican border town, where poverty and gang wars reign. "The Americans sell the weapons, the Mexicans bring the dead," the artist said in a succinct comment on the atrocities.

Feminicide raises its ugly head amid the carnage, and the statistics are shocking: 1441 women were murdered between 1993 and 2013. Margolles has not shied away from this pervasive problem. Just the contrary, she has devoted over 30 years of her career to documenting the endemic violence of that part of the world.

Teresa Margolles was born in 1963 in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. She studied art, communications, and forensic medicine. In 2009, she represented Mexico at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Teresa Margolles: Mundos
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
185 Ste-Catherine W
Montreal, QC
February 16 to May 14, 2017

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Teresa Margolles, 2014
Photo: Antonio de la Rosa

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Teresa Margolles, Pista de baile del Nightclub Irma’s (Dance floor from “Nightclub Irma’s”), 2016
Colour print on cotton paper
Transgender sex worker standing on the ruins of the dance floor of a demolished nightclub in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
125 x 185 cm (framed)
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

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Teresa Margolles, Pista de baile del club Mona Lisa (Dance floor from the “Mona Lisa“ nightclub ), 2016
Colour print on cotton paper
Transgender sex worker standing on the ruins of the dance floor of a demolished nightclub in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
125 x 185 cm (framed)
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

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Teresa Margolles, La Promesa (The Promise) (detail, performative action), 2012
Sculptural block made of ground-up remains from a demolished house in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Dimensions variable
Installation view of the action performed at the MUAC, Mexico City, 2012
Collection Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), UNAM, Mexico City
Photo: Rafael Burillo

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Teresa Margolles, La Promesa (The Promise), 2012
Sculptural block made of ground up remains from a demolished house in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Dimensions variable
Installation view at the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2014
Collection Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), UNAM, Mexico City
Photo: Rafael Burillo

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Teresa Margolles, Irrigación (Irrigation), 2010
Single channel video projection (Blu-Ray), color, 34 min 12 s, sound.
Documentation photos: Teresa Margolles.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

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Teresa Margolles, Pesquisas (Enquêtes), 2016
Mural installation, 30 colour prints of posters photographed on the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, portraying women who have disappeared, from the late 1990s through to the present
303 x 705 cm (approx. overall)
Photo: Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

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Teresa Margolles, Mundos (Worlds), 2016
Installation, neon sign from a former bar in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, loudspeaker
87.5 x 522 x 20.5 cm
Photo: Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich