The Proposal, San Francisco Art Institute

Thursday, September 8th, 2016-Saturday, December 10th, 2016
Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute

FRIDAY, SEP 09, 2016, 7:00PM - 9:00PM

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.

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, who gifted it to 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 and copyright to Mexico.

The exhibit serves as both a poetic counterproposal to the original gift to Zanco, and a sweeping disruption of a decades-long stalled negotiation. 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.

The Proposal is commissioned by San Francisco Art Institute and curated by Hesse McGraw, SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs.

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