Temporary Contemporary

Friends of the Bass Museum, Inc. d/b/a Bass Museum of Art

Funding Received: 2012
Miami Beach, FL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
May 1, 2013

For much of contemporary art, there are conceptual underpinnings of works that are not immediately apparent when simply viewing the work. While this context is important for viewing the work as a whole, it is often advantageous to allow the viewer to form an initial impression naively; only then do we make available specific contextual information.

Such is the case with Teresa Margolles tc:temporary contemporary project "Untitled" (2010). Consisting of six concrete benches, these works are installed in Collins Park outside the Bass Museum of Art. Also functional benches, the public are invited to interact with them by lounging on them in the shade of one of the park’s well-known bayobob trees. The benches’ minimalist design also loosely resembles a beach lounge-chair, which is serendipitous given the proximity of the beach from Collins Park.

While these benches appear innocuous and perhaps even light-hearted, the missing contextual information reveals that Margolles created these benches by mixing concrete with waste-water from morgues in Mexico. This water was used to wash corpses in autopsy rooms, usually when investigating drug cartel-related deaths in Mexico. With this information, the works are suddenly viewed in a deservingly negative light—the works are no longer simply functioning benches. Margolles’s provocative conflation of brutality and beauty here shows us that public art is often not quite what it seems.