Art in America: The Exchange

Art in America brings to you the first iteration of “The Exchange” as a live event at Camp David, moderated by Emily Watlington. 

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Over the course of the evening, artist Jill Magid spoke with Amy Adler—a law professor at New York University—about their respective work and how it questions the law’s definitions and control of art.

Magid’s project “The Barragán Archives” (2013–16) investigates the oversight of artists’ legacies through the case of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, whose professional archive was purchased by the Swiss furniture company Vitra after his death. The nonprofit Barragan Foundation, headed by Federica Zanco, the art historian wife of Vitra’s chairman emeritus, Rolf Fehlbaum, is run out of the company’s fallout shelter in Birsfelden, Switzerland.

View of the exhibition “Woman With Sombrero,” 2013, at Art in General, New York.

Magid’s series has two parts: “Woman with Sombrero,” (2013–15)—sculptures and installations that visualize legal restrictions against reproducing Barragán’s work—and “The Proposal” (2014–16), various works and actions centered around Magid’s provocative request that Vitra return the Barragán materials to Mexico. In 2018 Magid wrote and directed a feature film about the project called The Proposal. As a legal scholar, Adler writes about related topics: the First Amendment’s treatment of images, the intersection of copyright law and the art market, and the moral rights of artists.

Jill Magid: The Proposal, 2016, 2.02-carat uncut diamond; at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen. PHOTO STEFAN JAEGGI.

The archive was bought for Federica as an engagement present, supposedly in lieu of a ring. Jill wondered: if the archive was gained from a proposal, could it be accessed through another proposal? I proposed to Federica with a diamond ring made from Barragán’s ashes, asking to exchange his body for public access to his body of work.

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 Check out the trailer for “The Proposal” → 

Known as “the artist among architects,” Luis Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century.

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Read the rest of the conversation on Art in America here. 


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