Woman With Sombrero
This new commission was presented as Art in General’s contribution to Performa 13, New Visual Art Performance Biennial.
What does it mean for a corporation to own an artist’s legacy? This question forms the core of Jill Magid’s latest work Woman With Sombrero, the first part of an ongoing multi-media project entitled The Barragán Archives, which examines the legacy of Mexican architect and Pritzker Prize-winner Luis Barragán (1902–1988).
For Art in General’s exhibition, based on Barragán’s personal archive and library that Magid studied in Mexico City, complex personal and historical situations are explored through furniture, sculpture, photographs, and film referencing the architect’s home and life – as well as an audio recording with slides relating to the architect’s intimate correspondence with numerous women. Refused access at this time to the professional archive, now owned by Vitra and located in Switzerland, the artist instead inserts gestures and invitations to make space for that which she does not know and cannot see. Taking the law as a raw material of the work, Magid frames books as readymades, avoiding copy infringement. Ideas of obsession and ownership, versus authorship and preserving legacy, collide in this investigation.
Along with the vast majority of his architecture, Barragán’s personal archive remains in Mexico under the guardianship of the Fundación de Arquitectura Tapatía Luis Barragán. His professional archive—including the rights to the architect’s name and work—was acquired in 1995 by Swiss furniture company Vitra under the auspices of the newly founded Barragan Foundation located in Birsfelden, Switzerland. The foundation is directed by Federica Zanco, architect, author, and the wife of Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman of the Board of Vitra.
In this project, Magid examines what it means for a major part of Barragán’s heritage to be outside of Mexico and to have limited access. Exploring the intersection of the psychological and the judicial, national identity and repatriation, international property rights and copyright law, Magid re-imagines and re-presents material from the archives based on its legal status. In the process, she explores her role as an artist and a researcher in relation to the roles of Barragán and Zanco.
Woman With Sombrero is Jill Magid’s first major project with Art in General. A reading from her Failed States book took place at Art in General in October 2012 following her recent inclusion in the 5th Bucharest Biennale, curated by Anne Barlow in 2012.