Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Momus

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we admire, and this week we’re reading Momus. “Kimberlee Cordova, a Momus contributing editor from Mexico City, continues her penchant for bold and brave art criticism with this assessment of the role that exaggeration and ‘alternative fact’ played in Jill Magids much-publicized performance piece, The Proposal. Kimberlee suggests that the easy narratives that emerge, though convenient for Magids imagery and publicity, stretch the truth in possibly harmful ways.” This article was originally published on January 24, 2017.

Jill Magid. The Proposal (detail), 2016; Uncut, 2.02 carat, blue diamond with micro-laser inscription “I am wholeheartedly yours,” silver ring, ring box, documents. Setting design: Anndra Neen. Courtesy of the artist; LABOR, Mexico City; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich and Galerie Untilthen, Paris.

Jill Magid. The Proposal (detail), 2016; uncut, 2.02 carat blue diamond with micro-laser inscription “I am wholeheartedly yours,” silver ring, ring box, documents. Setting design: Anndra Neen. Courtesy of the Artist; LABOR, Mexico City; RaebervonStenglin, Zurich, and Galerie Untilthen, Paris.

As the spectacle of the 2016 United States presidential elections played out over the summer, Mexico hosted a surreal visit by a well-known, polarizing New Yorker. Mirroring Trump in her own way, Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Jill Magid brandished symbols of wealth and messianic messaging, while conducting a master class in media manipulation. Much ink was spilt last year on her controversial mission to insert herself “into the life of a dead man” with her four-year project The Barragán Archives (2012–16). The work was generally celebrated by standard-bearer publications and has been widely circulated on social media. In Mexico, however, the reception to Magid’s work has been decidedly more ambivalent. And broader questions loom: How are journalists to report stories responsibly when truth seems to matter less than attention, and the very fact of reporting becomes, itself, a post-truth prop? With hollow justifications of “alternative facts” ringing in our ears daily, it feels more than slightly uncomfortable to lift another skillful prevaricator upon our shoulders.

The dead man in question was Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán, whose ashes Magid negotiated to have transformed into a one-carat diamond. This gem was set in an engagement ring, which she offered to Dr. Federica Zanco, the director of the architect’s professional archive, in exchange for the documents’ repatriation to Mexico from Switzerland. Titled The Proposal (2016), Magid’s offering of the ring represents “the final climactic instalment” of The Barragán Archives, which sought to “understand what it meant for an artist’s legacy to be controlled by a corporation.”

Read the full review here.

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