When her exhibition “Operativo” opened at New York's Y Gallery, in July 2008, Mexican artist Teresa Margolles said, “Everyone dies but not everyone is murdered. I want people to recognize that.” Ostensibly, with this call for recognition, Margolles simultaneously gestures toward both the universality of death and the crucial differentiation of its genres. Death is not a standardized moment or an equal event; it can be untimely, premature, and violent. As such, death spotlights difference; death has a social life that is contextualized by brutality, inequality, poverty, and politics. To achieve this recognition Margolles works in medico-legal and forensic spaces, creating aesthetic pieces from the remains of crime. This essay examines a number of artworks by Margolles as she deals in death scenes that exceed the boundaries of “typical” criminological, political, or juridical discourse. The essay explores dimensions of Margolles's practice to examine additionally the constitutive value of aesthetic projects that deal in violent death.

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