in New York, NY / United States
10.01.2020 - 29.02.2020 00:00
Teresa Margolles

James Cohan is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Teresa Margolles. This is the artist’s debut solo exhibition at James Cohan.

Teresa Margolles investigates the social and aesthetic dimensions of conflict by infusing artwork with material traces of violence and loss. For this exhibition, she has created a new body of sculpture, photography, and installation that contends with the underlying causes of death and ongoing trauma on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border. Assembled in collaboration with communities affected by violence, the objects on view examine shared experience to underscore mutual accountability within a context of commemoration and collective mourning.

Central to the exhibition is “El manto negro / The black shroud”, a large-scale installation comprised of over 4,000 burnished ceramic pieces hand-made by artisans in Mata Ortiz, Mexico. Known for its production of ceramic pots, Mata Ortiz is located south of the Paquimé archaeological zone in Casas Grandes, at the foothills of an area now controlled by cartels. The village and its ceramicists have suffered greatly from the escalating violence in the region. Margolles collaborated with a group of these artisans to create atypically-shaped, square forms. Sourced from deposits at the base of this mountainous zone, the clay pieces were darkened with a traditional firing technique using smoke from burning cow manure, and then hand-burnished with a stone to an almost glass-like finish. The resulting charcoal hue is deeply symbolic for Margolles, for whom this work “speaks of mourning for people killed in violent acts. The blackness accentuates an experience of mourning shared between Mexico and the United States—and a correlation of responsibility. The wall becomes a unifying black shroud that covers both countries.”

Each artwork in this exhibition is embedded with the physical residue of violence, carrying a material history of death. To create the series entitled “El Brillo”, shards of glass collected from sites where violent acts occurred were hand-embroidered into high-fashion garments. Containing fragments stitched into fine velvet with 24K gold thread, each piece is embellished with a tangible outcome of violence wrought by the U.S.-manufactured munitions that proliferate on the border. Two concrete benches within the main gallery space, entitled “Dos bancos”, are made from a mixture of cement and material absorbed from the ground where a person was shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The work’s composition is inseparable from the site of homicide and its broader context within a city whose economic proximity to the U.S. has ushered in decades of conflict due to organized crime and unsanctioned political actions. The work invites a deeper relationship with the human toll of the military industrial complex and the marginality reinforced by global economic policy, calling upon the viewer to bear witness to suffering otherwise rendered incomprehensible.

Teresa Margolles (b. 1963, Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico) has exhibited extensively for more than two decades, both in Latin America and abroad. In 2019, she received a special jury mention for her work at the 58th Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include “En la Herida”, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2019); “Te alineas o te alineamos (You fall in line or they put you in line)”, BPS22 Musée d’art de la Province de Hainaut, Charleroi, Belgium (2019); “La Carne Muerta Nunca Se Abriga”, Museo de la Solidaridad, Santiago, Chile (2019); “Estorbo”, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia (2019); “A new work by Teresa Margolles”, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2018); “Ya Basta Hijos de Puta”, PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy (2018); and “Mundos”, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada (2017). Margolles has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Artes Mundi Prize and Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development in 2012. She represented Mexico at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 with “What Else Could We Talk About?”.

Gallery hours Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm


James Cohan Gallery
48 Walker Street
10013 New York, NY
United States


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