850 Improntas (850 Imprints)

By Teresa Margolles

Improntas (Imprints) (2021) by Teresa MargollesMayor of London

In Recognition of the Marginalised

Teresa Margolles’ sculpture, which translates to ‘imprint’, is made of casts of the faces of 850 transgender people; most are sex workers, a community that is often-marginalised not only in her native Mexico but also around the world.

Improntas (Imprints) (2021) by Teresa MargollesMayor of London

‘Living’ Art

To create the sculptures, plaster will be applied directly onto the ‘models’ faces; as a result, not only are the features recorded but the material also becomes infused with their hair and skin cells.

Teresa Margolles by The Mayor of LondonMayor of London

The Plight of Those Unwanted

The casts will be arranged round the plinth in the form of a tzompantli, a skull rack that featured in meso-American civilisations (an area extending from Central Mexico to northern Costa Rica) and used to display the remains of war captives or sacrificial victims. This link to an ancient practice of sacrifice will demand that we pay attention to the plight of the unwanted in society.

Improntas (Imprints) (2021) by Teresa MargollesMayor of London

The Artist’s Style

Teresa's work typically investigates the social and aesthetic dimensions of conflict, creating sculptural installations, photographs, films and performances imbued with material traces of death. 

She actually trained as a forensic pathologist and worked as a mortician in Mexico City in the ‘90s. During that time, her artwork was influenced by the nameless victims of drug-trafficking violence whose unidentifiable bodies passed  through the morgue. 
She continues to work with and create art around and related to those who have little or no access to social care.

Teresa Margolles Portrait by Teresa MargollesMayor of London

About the Artist

Teresa was born in Culiacán, Mexico in 1963 and later studied art there at the  Dirección de Fomento a la Cultura Regional del Estado de Sinaloa. Like all the shortlisted artists, she has exhibited extensively in her native country and internationally.

Her awards and accolades include the Cardiff-based Artes Mundi Prize, the Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development (Netherlands; 2012), and a special jury mention for her work at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.
She now lives and works in Mexico City. 

Interview with artist Teresa Margolles (2021) by Jared SchillerMayor of London

Credits: Story

L Rhoda Molife

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