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Photograph by Rafael Burillo. Courtesy of the artist and gallery Mor-Charpentier
Photograph by Rafael Burillo. Courtesy of the artist and gallery Mor-Charpentier
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Teresa Margolles Builds Massive Monument To The Dead In LA

Picture of Mary Pettas
Updated: 29 July 2016
A local Mexican artist has taken the time in the past to meticulously honor those who died at the hands of gun violence in the past year, usually in cold bloodshed in the streets of the cities she traverses. The installment is one of many that is highlighted by the Los Angeles Department of Culture Affair’s recently implemented program called Current: LA Water, a biennale that commissions local artists to comment on the theme with their structures that are installed all over the city in parks and other such public spaces.
Courtesy of Current LA
Courtesy of Current LA

Teresa Margolles addressed this theme in a surprising way once before in 2003 with an exhibit titled En El Aire, or ‘in the air’. This exhibit consisted of a room filled with bubbles, which delighted visitors until they realized, with horror, that the water forming the bubbles had initially been used to cleanse corpses at the morgue. She continues this commentary insisting that resources such as water and air unite the human experience. In her new piece, she gathered raw materials from scenes of murders from around the city, oftentimes sponging water over the evidence or whatever mark of the homicide that she could find in order to use it in her piece.

La Sombra
La Sombra | Photograph by Rafael Burillo/Courtesy of the artist and gallery Mor-Charpentier

Titled La Sombra, meaning ‘the shadow’ or ‘the shade,’ the overpowering structure located in a corner of Echo Park certainly provides much-needed shade to park goers. But it also reflects the shadow that these deaths throw over the sunny façade of the city, revealing the morbid and terrible and, therefore, ignored reality of violence and suffering. However, after it draws visitors near, the shelter itself is so massive that it is hard to ignore as it seeks retribution, or at least remembrance of the greatness of this tragedy. This is also evinced in the over five-hour long video that accompanies the installation in which all of the victims’ names and ages are stated, in the hopes that the city where they died will pay them due tribute.

Echo Park
Echo Park | Courtesy of Current LA