Teresa Margollés: Testing Building's Memories

March 03, 2014

What do we do when 115,000 homes are left behind? Mexican artist Teresa Margollés explores at a solo exhibition at CA2M Madrid the phenomenon of Ciudad Juárez, the border city that saw 220,000 residents displaced by violence in 2010.

The show, called El Testigo / The Witness, is a dystopian journey into the reasons for and results of the town's violence-induced displacement. 
The journey has a chilling start with a work called PM 2010 (2012), a room full of covers from tabloids in Ciudad Juárez. All of them depict acts of brutal violence and evidence what the day-to-day looked like in Ciudad Juárez back in 2010.

The show continues through a corridor with a sound installation called Sounds of Death. The horror of the situation sinks in.

This Property Won't Be Demolished pictures, through a series of colour photographs taken between 2009 and 2013, Ciudad Juárez' derelict buildings, left behind as a result of the displacement.
Margollés takes it further in the following room by making visitors feel dereliction. The Promise is a wall made with 22 tonnes of rubble from a Juárez house. Visitors are encouraged to undo the wall with their hands and turn it back to rubble.
La promesa / The Promise (2012)
The artwork comes with a picture archive and a making-of video: a derelict house in south-east Ciudad Juárez is purchased, carefully demolished, grounded, packed and sent away. 

Archivo La promesa (2011-13) by T. Margollés

Archivo La promesa (2011-13) by T. Margollés

Archivo La promesa (2011-13)

Archivo La promesa (2011-13) by T. Margollés
It's a powerful experience to touch and demolish a full size reconstituted wall. It's a way of connecting to the story with the senses rather than with the mind. Feeling an issue rather than understanding it, is what it takes to care about it. 
Margollés' exploration of the power of presence is as brilliant as her reflection on what makes a town. The show evidences how it takes more than buildings and people to create a livable place, and hints that this more might be a social contract or the willingness of a community to sacrifice some personal liberties in favour of a common good.

To the question of what to do when 115,000 homes are left behind, a visitor of the show would suggest exploring the community's social contract to find and mend the broken.

The Witness, Teresa Margollés | Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo, CA2M, Madrid
| 18 February - 25 May 2014
More on Teresa Margollés in this blog in ARCOMadrid 2013

by AM unless otherwise stated. Cover pictures This Property Won't Be Demolished by Teresa Margollés
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