Teresa Margolles Untitled 2006

Teresa Margolles
Untitled 2006
Metal, heating element, water used to wash corpses in a morgue, dripper
Installation view at Tate Liverpool 2006
Photo © Tate 2006

Examining the transition from life to death, body to corpse, Teresa Margolles maintains how not even death can function as a leveller of social inequality. The procedures and rituals that surround death – what the artist refers to as ‘the life of the corpse’, a subject central to her work of the past fourteen years – are as much a product of social and economic circumstance as life itself. Commonly the result of violent crime or drug abuse, the identity of the bodies Margolles comes into contact with often remains unknown. They are disposed of with anonymity and without ceremony.

Formally Untitled, as does much of the artist’s work, resembles Minimalist sculpture – the structure also alludes to a post-mortem examination table. An internal element heats the top surface of the metal sculpture while a device suspended from the ceiling intermittently releases drops of water onto the boiling hot surface below. The droplets, formed by water used to wash bodies in a morgue in Mexico City, hit the surface with a sound like gunshot, instantly evaporating and surrounding the viewer in their vapour. The almost physical traces of death and its memory provide a multi-sensory experience in which the viewer is immediately implicated; its sight, smell, sound and envelop us.