The Continuing Saga of the Architect Made into a Diamond

The power games of Jill Magid’s project concerning the archives of Luis Barragán continue in an extensive exhibition that completes the circle without any conclusive resolution.

MEXICO CITY — A long saga has developed out of Jill Magid’s most controversial and highly publicized project yet. Magid unearthed the ashes of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán to have a diamond made from his remains, and offered the stone set in an engagement ring to the woman who controls his professional archives. The ring was offered in exchange for returning the archives to Mexico. The power games, which I wrote about in a review of Magid’s show last year at Labor Gallery, continue at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in an extensive exhibition, A letter always arrives at its destination, which completes the circle of the drama without any conclusive resolution.

In the end, the exhibition is a beast bigger than the artist. While it may have emerged from her desire to access Barragán’s professional archives, the art is in her humanization of the architect and herself in a messy multinational drama. Magid didn’t shy away from the conflicts inherent to a project that resurrects the dead, and questions copyright and intellectual property policies through both artistic and legal investigation. The Benjaminian aura surrounding this project that lives in the delicate negotiations, emails, and meetings between Magid and the Barragán family (the drama behind the curtain) is masterfully manipulated on a scope rarely seen.

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