An Artist’s Plot to Unlock Luis Barragán’s Archive with a Diamond Made from His Ashes

In a multiyear project that has exploded beyond any one gallery space, New York’s Jill Magid has reactivated the legacy of Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragán. Beyond a call for access to a one-of-a-kind archive, Magid’s work with Barragán is literary stagecraft that implicates a cast of characters involved in mysterious multinational negotiations, as well as legal and narrative ambiguity. Magid’s unsuccessful attempt to access the architect’s professional archive — cryptically stored away in the basement of a Swiss corporation’s headquarters — culminated in Barragán’s ashes being made into a blue diamond and set into a wedding band. The artist created an action much bigger than herself in which viewers don’t know where the truth ends and fantasy begins. In exhibitions at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen in Switzerland, Mexico City’s LABOR gallery, and soon at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), Magid weaves a spellbinding web of documents, letters, sculptures, and near-copyright infringements.

Jill Magid’s Ex-Voto continues LABOR (Gral. F. Ramírez 5, Daniel Garza, Mexico City) through September 3; The Proposal was on view at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (Davidstrasse 40, St. Gallen, Switzerland) through August 21 and will be on view in the Walter and McBean Galleries of the San Francisco Art Institute (800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California) from September 9 through December 10.

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