The violence in Mexico is frequently signified in documentary images by the visibility of the corpse, which abstracts the social conditions of disenfranchisement and vulnerability parsed unevenly on the basis of gender and sexuality. Specifically with respect to missing and murdered women across the Americas, the corpse frequently comes to signify abstract violence itself rather than the social conditions of disenfranchisement and vulnerability that women and queer and trans people face daily. Through a reading of installations and interventions by the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles, this article seeks to address how ethical encounters might be summoned through proximate, intimate encounters with the very absence of the disappeared body, represented through bodily fluids and fragmentary remains. The article argues that such aesthetic experiments point to decolonizing forms of intimacy that entail new forms of relationality, resisting a socially confined “rights-based” subject. Instead of structures of recognition, the decorporealized matter present in Margolles’s work both represents the biopolitical regulation of life and continues to impress themselves on the living from another social space. Finally, the article reflects on Margolles’s invitation to participate in performing her sculptures and on the circuits of debt, remittances, and gifts proffered by such intimate engagements with bodily and nonhuman life.

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