Shine bright like a diamond

Jill Magid transforms Luis Barragán’s ashes into a two-carat diamond

Architecture Preservation West
(Courtesy Jill Magid / Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen / Stefan Jaeggi/ LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Untilthen, Paris)
(Courtesy Jill Magid / Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen / Stefan Jaeggi/ LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Untilthen, Paris)

In her latest multimedia work, American artist Jill Magid has converted the cremated ashes of Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán into a two-carat diamond.

Still from documentary film created for the exhibition (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

Still from documentary film created for the exhibition. (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

The Proposal, as the overall work is known, incorporates Magid’s long-running engagement with public access, institutionalized power, and artistic legacy by orchestrating a trade between the Mexican government, Barragán’s estate, and Federica Zanco, Director of the Barragán Foundation, in order to return a key component of Barragán’s archives back to his native Mexico.

Luis Barragan diamond being grown (Courtesy Sven Lenz / Jill Magid)

The Luis Barragan diamond being grown. (Courtesy Sven Lenz / Jill Magid)

Barragán originally divided up his archives into two separate components. One, consisting of his home in Mexico, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Barragán, and personal archives, remains intact in the architect’s home country. The second, a professional archive including rights to his name, works, and all photographs taken of his architecture, were purchased by Chairman and heir of Swiss furniture company Vitra Rolf Fehlbaum in 1995 as an engagement present for Zanco, then his girlfriend, and have been stored out of public view in a vault in Switzerland ever since.



Still from documentary film created for the exhibition (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

Still from documentary film created for the exhibition. (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

Magid’s work pivots on the artist’s ability to strategically cultivate personal relationships with wealth and power in order to subvert the structures of corporate ownership. In a press release for the project, Magid explained the impetus for the work: “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?”

Still from documentary film created for the exhibition (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

Still from documentary film created for the exhibition (Jarred Alterman / Jill Magid / LABOR, Mexico City / RaebervonStenglin, Zurich / Galerie Untilthen, Paris)

The Proposal was commissioned by San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and exists as an art exhibition curated by Hesse McGraw, SFAI Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs. Magid’s work is currently on view at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland until August 21, 2016 after which it will make its American debut at SFAI on September 9, 2016. The Proposal will also be presented at the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, opening on Sept 8, 2016.


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