From morgue to museum : contextualizing the work of SEMEFO and Teresa Margolles



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While the work of contemporary Mexican artist Teresa Margolles and her collaborators in the death-metal band and performance group SEMEFO is often contextualized within a national framework or within specific artistic developments of the 1990s, meager writing exists to explore how the artist and the audience experience the work. This thesis examines the work of Margolles and SEMEFO to contextualize their work with dead bodies and animal carcasses within a historical moment in Mexico City, but also to relate it to its many venues and audiences. In it, I study the work's relationship to affect, narratives of personal experience, and to the intimate ways in which artist and audience view the dead. Studying how Margolles and her collaborators change their presentation of corpses over time and in different spaces allows readings of the artists' relationship to their underground death-metal community, their urban independent artistic community, and their international museum-based community. Through these communities, we can understand Margolles' work as part of a more specific history based on intimate interactions and expressions of mourning.