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The Architect Who Became a Diamond - The New Yorker
"Barragán was a devout Catholic, and his work is characterized by a mixture of opulence and abnegation. “Where do you find more eroticism than in the cloister of a convent?” he once asked. His buildings are mostly residential, with anonymous perimeter walls that protect modestly sized but lavish interiors. Louis Kahn recalled that, in the sixties, he asked Barragán to help him design the courtyard garden at the Salk Institute and flew him out to San Diego to see the site. Barragán took one look at the expanse of concrete and said, “You are going to hate me, but there should be no tree here,” and went home, forsaking a commission from one of his most famous living colleagues.

Tall, blue-eyed, and bald from a young age, Barragán lived beautifully and tyrannically. He wore English sports jackets, silk shirts, and knitted ties; he had a Cadillac and employed a chauffeur. He enjoyed melon halves drizzled with sherry, and was known to have his maid prepare entirely pink meals. An architect friend recalled being disinvited to tea on several occasions because the light in the garden wasn’t right.

“You have no idea how much I hate small things, ugly things,” Barragán told the journalist Elena Poniatowska. “Yet the fragility of some women moves me.” Though he never married (and is thought by some to have been gay), his taste in women was particular: willowy, dark, with, as Poniatowska put it, “the big, hollow eyes of someone who has suffered.” Women recounted trying to lose weight in the weeks before visiting him. Barragán was generous with gifts, bringing small tokens of appreciation—silver boxes, flowers, packages of dates—even to casual lunches. He spoke gently and smiled often. He liked to read Proust, listen to classical music, and fantasize about the Russian gentry. Famously private, he despised his contemporaries’ infatuation with “uninhabitable” glass houses and thought that shadows were “a basic human need.” His work, likewise, was hidden: the residences were often within gated communities, the fountains protected by private courtyards. If there is a recurring criticism of Barragán, it is that he was undemocratic. He spent Sundays at an equestrian club, and when someone accused him of “only designing homes for rich people,” he allegedly replied, “And horses.”

I met Andrés Casillas, an architect now in his eighties who was a protégé of Barragán’s, at his home, an hour and a half from Mexico City. He had perfectly coiffed white hair and wore a fine cashmere sweater. His home had an austere, siesta-like feel that was unmistakably Barragánesque. He spoke slowly and with exaggerated gallantry. “This is stupid to say, but Barragán was a gentleman,” he told me. Casillas talked about meeting Barragán for the first time. He was eight years old, and had wandered around the “magical” garden of Barragán’s house for half an hour, after which Barragán presented him with a small glass of rompope, an eggnog-like liquor prepared by nuns. “I left absolutely mesmerized,” he said.

The hypnosis was by design. Barragán believed that architects should make “houses into gardens, and gardens into houses.” He made blueprints premised on surprise and an almost perverse protraction of pleasure. Low, dark corridors open into blindingly bright rooms with church-high ceilings. Floor plans only gradually make themselves evident to the visitor. He called it “architectural striptease.”

Walking through Barragán’s home, which was declared a unesco World Heritage site in 2004, one feels a sense of coercion, and Barragán himself never completely disappears. Keith Eggener, an architectural historian who made a pilgrimage to Barragán’s house soon after he died, recalled his impressions with the hesitant laughter of someone who’s embarrassed to tell the truth. “Even when it was run-down, it was a ravishing house,” he said. “I remember having this feeling of really wanting to spend the night there—not just to sleep in the house but to sleep with the house.”"



"In 2002, as an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie, in Amsterdam, Magid began noticing the large number of surveillance cameras in the city—anonymous gray boxes, mounted on everything from the corners of buildings to coffee-shop awnings. One February morning, she went to the police headquarters and explained that she was an artist interested in decorating the municipal cameras with rhinestones. She was directed to the appropriate police administrators, who told her that they did not work with artists. She thanked them and left. A few weeks later, Magid returned, armed with business cards and a corporate-speak sales pitch, presenting herself as the Head Security Ornamentation Professional at System Azure, a company that she had made up. The police not only allowed her to bedazzle the cameras but even paid her a couple of thousand dollars. “I realized that they could not hear me when I spoke as an artist,” Magid later said. “This had nothing to do with what I proposed but with who I was.”

The impish venture touched on a theme that Magid has returned to again and again, in increasingly ambitious ways. Her aim with most of her work is to humanize institutional power structures, subtly undermining them while adhering to the letter of their regulations: exploiting legal escape clauses and other red tape, and forging relationships with civil servants. She has ensconced herself in the Dutch secret service and been trained by a New York City cop. She once got members of a surveillance team from Liverpool’s police force to direct her through a public square with her eyes closed. In 2008, she told me, a Dutch government official warned her that she was considered a national-security threat. Though she cares deeply about how her work looks, she has less in common with other artists than with people whose jobs are not typically thought of as artistic: spies, investigative journalists, forensic experts.

Magid’s work can seem like a series of extended pranks, but when I suggested this to her she was aghast. “No!” she exclaimed. She laughed but seemed genuinely distressed. “I hate mean-spirited work,” she said. “It’s about the engagement. A prank doesn’t engage. A prank is: you throw something in and watch what happens. This is a commitment.” Still, people often ask Magid why anyone ever agrees to collaborate with her. She has said that she thinks it is “due to some combination of vanity, pride, and loneliness.”"



"Magid heard about the archive by coincidence: her gallery in Mexico City, Labor, is across the street from Casa Barragán. “It intrigued me as a gothic love story,” she has said, “with a copyright-and-intellectual-property-rights subplot.” In early 2013, Magid contacted Zanco through an intermediary, to introduce herself as an artist working on a project about Barragán, and asked if she might visit the archive. Zanco replied that she was “completely unable to allow access to the collection, nor be of any help to third parties.” A few months later, Magid sent a handwritten request, explaining that she had an upcoming show on Barragán in New York. She invited Zanco to curate pieces from her archive for inclusion. She signed off, “With Warmth and Admiration.” Zanco declined to collaborate, and warned, “I trust you would make yourself aware of the possible copyright implications of any sort of reproduction, and clear the related permissions, procedure and mandatory credits.”

That November, in Tribeca, Magid produced an exhibition about the impasse, “Woman with Sombrero,” which later travelled to Guadalajara. The show was a multimedia installation, with images of Barragán’s work, slide projections, and an iPad displaying the correspondence between Magid and Zanco. Objects were placed in teasing juxtaposition, in a way that suggested connections and narratives without insisting on them. Copies of books that Barragán had sent to various women lay on a bedside table that Magid had fabricated based on one of his designs. In what a press release described as “flirtation with the institutional structures involved,” Magid went to extreme lengths to stay just the right side of copyright law. Rather than reproduce Barragán images from Zanco’s book, for instance, Magid framed a copy of the book itself. The show was written up in the Times, and the article was not flattering to Zanco. Magid was quoted asking, “What’s the difference between loving something and loving something so much that you smother it?”

After the Times took an interest, Magid and Zanco’s correspondence became friendlier—either because Zanco now appreciated Magid’s work or because she realized that anything she wrote could end up as material in future shows. “Thank you for your company,” Zanco wrote at one point. “I feel definitely less lonely down in the archives.” The tone of their letters became familiar but measured. At no point did Magid mention her plan to make a diamond out of Barragán.

Magid agrees with those who argue that the Barragán archive should be open to the public and returned to Mexico, but she insists that this is not her focus. “If that’s what my intentions were, I don’t think I’d make art,” she told me. “I’ve always called the archive her lover. To marry one man, she negotiated owning another man, whom she’s devoted her life to. It’s a weird love triangle, and I’m the other woman.”"



"Magid was disconcerted; she’d expected Zanco to be alone. She followed Zanco in. Fehlbaum was there, seated, his back to a glass wall, and greeted her warmly. Zanco sat down beside him and gestured for Magid to take a seat across from them.

“I brought you this,” Magid said, taking a bottle of champagne from her bag. It was wrapped in an announcement of her St. Gallen show. Zanco removed the paper and thanked her. For the next hour, over lunch, the three of … [more]
2016  jillmagid  luisbarragán  architecture  art  archives  performanceart  laurapoitras  film  bureaucracy  institutions  casaluisbarragán  barraganfoundation  federicazanco  switzerland  guadalajar  mexico  mexicocity  mexicof  df  sfai  sanfrancisco  death  copyright  elenaponiatowska  pranks  engagement  performance  loneliness  journalism  alicegregory  mexicodf 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Jill Magid: The Proposal | SFAI
"The Proposal presents a climactic moment within Jill Magid’s extended, multimedia artwork, The Barragán Archives, which examines the legacy of Mexican architect and Pritzker Prize-winner Luis Barragán (1902–1988). The multi-year project poses piercing, radical, and pragmatic questions about the forms of power, public access, and copyright that construct artistic legacy. With this work, Magid asks, “What happens to an artist’s legacy when it is owned by a corporation and subject to a country’s laws where none of his architecture exists? Who can access it? Who can’t?”

Through his will, Barragán split his archive into two parts. Along with the vast majority of his architecture, Barragán’s personal archive remains in Mexico at his home, Casa Barragán, which is now a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1995, Barragán’s professional archive, including the rights to his name and work and all photographs taken of it, was purchased by the Chairman of the Swiss furniture company Vitra, allegedly as a gift for his fiancé, Federica Zanco; who now serves as Director of the Barragan Foundation. For the last twenty years, however, the archive has been publicly inaccessible, housed in a bunker at Vitra corporate headquarters.

The Proposal reaches a thrilling and unexpected salvo in Magid’s engagement with Barragán, Zanco, Barragán’s descendants, the Mexican Government, and the indispensable creative legacy that binds them. Through the public exhibition of The Proposal, Magid will present Zanco with the gift of a two-carat diamond engagement ring grown from the cremated remains of Barragán’s body, in exchange for the gift of his archive to Mexico.

The exhibit serves as both a poetic counterproposal to the original gift to Zanco, and a stunning re-animation of the formerly closed scenario. Magid’s gesture elegantly, and forcefully rejoins the divergent paths of Barragán’s professional and personal archives; even as it reveals Barragán’s official and private selves, and the unique interests of the institutions that have become the archives’ guardians. By developing long-term relationships with multiple individual, governmental, and corporate entities, Magid directly engages complex intersections of the psychological with the judicial, national identity and repatriation, international property rights and copyright law, authorship and ownership, the human body and the body of work. On May 31, 2016, Magid proposed to Zanco in Switzerland. The Proposal has not only exhumed Barragán’s physical remains, but opened the possibility to bring his spiritual and artistic legacy up out of the vault and back to life.

Read about The Proposal at The New Yorker » [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/01/how-luis-barragan-became-a-diamond ]

The Proposal is commissioned by San Francisco Art Institute. The exhibition is curated by Hesse McGraw, SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs, and organized with Katie Hood Morgan, Assistant Curator and Exhibitions Manager.

About the Artist

Through an artistic practice that is at once visual, textual, and performative, Jill Magid (*1973, lives in New York) forges intimate relationships within bureaucratic structures—flirting with, seducing, and subverting authority. Her projects probe seemingly impenetrable systems, such as the NYPD, the Dutch Secret Service, surveillance systems, and, most recently, the legacy of architect Luis Barragán, and infiltrates and unsettles these forms of power. Her work dynamically locates unexpected and rich communities within faceless bureaucracies.

Her works often take the form of elliptical love letters that draw out human qualities in agents of control. These charged encounters are founded on mutual trust, but are also fraught with ethical complications and social asymmetries. Through her works, Magid reframes the complexity, potential intimacy, and absurdity of our relationship with institutions and power.

Her performances and exhibitions have been commissioned and presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; and the New Museum, New York; among other venues.

Magid is represented by LABOR, Mexico City; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich; and Galerie Untilthen, Paris.

Related Film

A documentary about The Proposal will premiere on The Intercept in Fall 2016. Field of Vision, a filmmaker-driven visual journalism film unit created by Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack, and Charlotte Cook, commissioned the documentary, which is directed by Magid, and filmed and produced by Jarred Alterman. View Trailer »

Publication

The Proposal is accompanied by a co-publication between Sternberg Press; The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School; and SFAI. Released as part of the Sternberg Press Critical Spatial Practice book series, the book is edited by Nikolaus Hirsch, Carin Kuoni, Hesse McGraw, and Markus Miessen, and features contributions by Nikolaus Hirsch, Jill Magid, Hesse McGraw, Leonardo Díaz Borioli, David Kim, Daniel McClean, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Beth Povinelli, and Ines Weizman. The publication is funded in part by Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation."
jillmagid  luisbarragán  archives  art  performanceart  2016  laurapoitras  film  bureaucracy  institutions  casaluisbarragán  barraganfoundation  federicazanco  architecture  switzerland  guadalajar  mexico  mexicocity  mexicof  df  sfai  sanfrancisco  mexicodf 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Energy That Is All Around | Art Practical
"But the exhibition’s linchpin is tucked into one of the vitrines devoted to correspondence, snapshots, and other ephemera. It is a page from one of McCarthy’s sketchbooks, in which she paraphrases Walter Benjamin: “Aura=relationship of distance/time and space.”3 Benjamin laments the “passionate…inclination to bring things close” (emphasis his) that spurs reproduction but strips a work of its aura.4 For the group of artists represented in this exhibition, the capacity to encounter their work without the attendant baggage of the Mission School moniker is almost impossible. But bringing the artists back to the place where they were students both collapses and expands the distance around the work, historicizing it even as we encounter anew its vibrancy, earnestness, and disruptive spirit. The gap of twenty years is felt in the juxtaposition of paintings that are heartbreaking in their youthful fervor with those that are sober with the received wisdom of age.

The ephemera also remind us why “school” was an applicable term for these artists’ activities. An academic institution indoctrinates certain ideological leanings and refutes others. The aesthetics of the Mission School reflect a conscientious rejection of modernist trajectories, and its collaborative activities corresponded to the predominant economic and social conditions of the Mission district at the time. As an ideology for San Francisco, the Mission School is still relevant even as its namesake neighborhood has radically transformed and derivative works have diminished the politics that informed the aesthetic choices of the original artists. If we remember why Glen Helfand coined the label in his 2002 article—to describe a group of artists committed to utopian ideals “about the power of fellowship and the possibility of being lifted up,” to resourcefulness in the face of economic hardship, and to radical personal politics—there are still lessons to be learned here.5"
missionschool  art  sanfrancisco  sfai  2013  aliciamccarthy  rubyneri  chrisjohanson  marharetkilgallen  barrymcgee  natashaboas  ephemeral  ephemera  ideology  education  academia  aesthetics  rejection  modernism  collaboration  glov  srg  edg  glenhelfand  fellowship  resourcefulness  personalpolitics  radicalism  aura  walterbenjamin  youth  utopia  time  distance  space  ephemerality 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Edicola, a New Kind of Newsstand, Opens on Market Street: Visual Arts | KQED Public Media for Northern CA
"Upon learning of the Edicola newsstand in San Francisco, started by the artists Luca Antonucci and Carissa Potter, I was impressed; it is one of those rare projects that is not only inspired and original, but has been successfully realized.

Antonucci and Potter met when they were graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. Potter, feeling a certain affinity for her classmate, approached him with a proposition. "I had this crazy idea to ask him to be in a video with me where I told him that I liked him without knowing anything about him," she said. The video didn't turn out too well, but the two have been friends ever since. Together they launched both Colpa Press and Edicola, a newsstand that sells a curated selection of artists' books, newspapers and prints. That's not the only thing that makes the newsstand unique: the store is run out of a formerly closed San Francisco Chronicle kiosk on Market Street in bustling downtown San Francisco…"
tovisit  prints  retail  art  curation  newspapers  books  sfai  2008  carissapotter  lucaantonucci  newsstands  sanfrancisco  edicola 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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