Failed States is an exploration of coincidence, poetics, government power, and bureaucracy. On January 21, 2010, Fausto Cardenas fired six shots from a small caliber handgun into the air from the steps of the Texas State Capitol, just blocks from the site of this exhibition. Coincidentally, Magid was present as a witness. Charged with perpetrating a terrorist threat to a government system, Fausto’s motivations remain unknown. His case nearly came to trial numerous times only to be continuously delayed. Last August, Fausto took a plea bargain, ultimately silencing himself.
In Failed States, Magid draws connections between Fausto’s futile and tragic act and Goethe’s nineteenth-century epic poem, Faust. Magid mines Faust for thematic connections and develops a means of performative exhibition, treating the gallery as a stage to be read. Faust was originally written as a “closet drama” —a play to be read rather than performed, yet it is regularly seen on stage. This exhibition functions on these dueling levels, mingling personal and public, fact and fiction, Fausto and Faust. Failed States extends beyond the gallery with two offsite projects. Failed States, the work from which this exhibition takes its names, is Magid’s family car: a 1993 Mercedes station wagon armored to B4 level, resistant to 9mm through .44 Magnum gun fire. It is an invisibly armored closet, installed where Fausto parked his car before entering the Capitol. Magid also published a work in the February 2012 issue of the political magazine, Texas Observer.