The work Through by Teresa Margolles
is an intervention into the architecture of the HKW, made with an artistic gesture that is at once subtle and disturbingly frightful. The building and institution in question are a part of the democratic self-narration of both the pre- and post-1989 “West” that took upon itself a task to present, from this very “western” perspective and as an extension of Germany’s respective foreign policies before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the cultures of the non-West. Initially, the “cultures of the world” were nearly exclusively understood to be of the “Third World,” allowing the all too powerful remnants of the Cold War language to continue ruling over our imagination. In this framework, Margolles smudges some of the building’s windows with used, dirty T-shirts that she collected from various contexts, including the numerous sites of narco violence in Mexico, especially around the country’s US border. This systematic process results in a thin smear that veils the windows in an attempt to symbolically refract the outlook of the institution onto the world in its “new world order.” As she “infects” the building’s glass membrane with sweat, blood, and bacteria the work turns into an act of implicating and entangling what we think of as the “West” in the seemingly distant dramas of immigration, displacement, drug wars, precariousness, debt, poverty, and hostility.