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Hard Touch: Gore Capitalism and Teresa Margolles’s Soft Interventions


KeywordsTriple Keywords
Market economy
Concept formation
Power (Social sciences)
Political power
Empowerment (Social sciences)
Number concept


This text approaches Teresa Margolles’s textile works through the lens of gore capitalism, a concept theorized in Sayak Valencia’s important 2018 book. Gore capitalism, according to Valencia, is the inevitable extension of globalization leading to the use of extreme violence in order to gain economic power and status. In 2009, Margolles was chosen to represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale, and her installation included a number of large cloths that had been used to clean up scenes of narco-violence in northern Mexico. In 2012 and 2015, Margolles gave bloody textiles to groups of embroiderers who embroidered directly onto the cloths. In these and other works, Margolles’s stained textiles index violent death in a range of global contexts, staging “soft interventions” that I interpret as political acts of resistance against gore capitalism, violent crime related to narco-empowerment, and femicide. The modernist framing of textiles as excessive is also interrogated, and it is argued that what Margolles’s textile artworks unveil is not the innate excessiveness of textiles, but rather the excessiveness of violence.

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