Teresa Margolles has been named the winner of the Artes Mundi 5 prize, from a shortlist of seven artists. Awarded by a panel of international curators and directors, the announcement was made at an evening ceremony at National Museum Cardiff on 29 November. With a first prize of 40,000 GBP, Artes Mundi is the largest cash prize awarded for the arts in the UK and one of the most significant in the world.
From 29 May to 28 August 2011 Teresa Margolles has presented her show “Frontera” at the Museion. Frontera reflected on the suffering engendered by the dramatic scale of organised crime in Mexican society, and in particular on the murders and disappearances in Ciudad Juarez, the ‘frontier’ city on the border between Mexico and the United States. With more than 3,000 murders in a year, and more than 700 women kidnapped, tortured and killed, Juarez is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
The Panel of judges, chaired by curator and broadcaster Tim Marlow, commended the work of all seven nominated artists, but were particularly struck by “the visceral power and urgency as well as the sophistication of her work in confronting an on-going human tragedy.”
Teresa Margolles’s work focuses on Northern Mexican social experience, where drug-related crime has resulted in widespread violence and murder. Since graduating with a diploma in forensic medicine, Margolles has examined the economics of death. Her sculptural interventions and performances often bring the physical reality and materiality of death to the fore, exemplified in her artistic intervention during the 2009 Venice Biennale in which the floor of the Mexican pavilion was mopped with water used to wash dead bodies from a morgue in Mexico.
The international judging panel comprised Ute Meta Bauer, Dean of Fine Art, Royal College of Art, London; Adam Budak, International Curator for Contemporary Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; Kathrin Becker, Head of Video Forum, nbk, Berlin; Karen MacKinnon, Curator, Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Tim Marlow, Exhibitions Director, White Cube, London and Sabine Schaschl, Director, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel.