FOCUS: Jill Magid

January 21, 2022 - March 20, 2022
Jill Magid, 2000 Pattern Penny

Jill Magid
2020 Pattern Penny, 2021 (detail: uranium)
Flameworked and mold-pressed glass
Photo: Useful Art Services, Chicago
© Jill Magid, Courtesy of the artist and LABOR, Mexico City

January 21, 2022 - March 20, 2022

Throughout Jill Magid’s career, she has carried out extraordinary tasks for her research, such as forging highly intimate connections with faceless, bureaucratic systems. The New York–based artist implants herself into established systems of control and authority in order to study such structures from within. As part of her performance-based practice, she has worked alongside the executors of an architect’s estate to exhume the deceased, starred in CCTV films, and trained as a spy, police officer, and journalist in Afghanistan. Her work melds art and life and points to the interconnectedness, as well as strains and absurdities, among individuals and the institutions and authority figures regulating them.

For her exhibition at the Modern, the artist will show the film Tender Balance alongside related works that expand upon her 2020 Creative Time public artwork, Tender. As the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding, the artist noticed how public figureheads often framed and diminished the value of lives lost in sharp relief to their descriptions of the country’s perceived economic toll. Tender is a response to and reflection of these circumstances and began as a discreet public intervention where Magid disseminated 120,000 newly minted 2020 pennies—the monetary equivalent to the stimulus relief checks issued by the CARES Act to American individuals—into the US economy. The edge of each coin is engraved with the phrase “THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE.” The pennies subtly entered the public’s hands via bodegas scattered throughout New York City’s five boroughs. These sites and exchanges are chronicled in the film Tender Balance and highlight the daily, intimate human connections with neighbors that turned rife with anxiety and fear throughout the pandemic. The film also follows the path of the coins from the mint to the wider public—a course not unlike a pathogen—and demonstrates systems of circulation on both intimate and grand scales. Magid’s work speaks to the vulnerability of the human body, our economic systems, and interpersonal exchanges, and it poetically reflects on a global crisis and its effect on the individual as well as the body politic.

Jill Magid
2020 Pattern Penny, 2021 (detail: uranium)
Flameworked and mold-pressed glass
Photo: Useful Art Services, Chicago
© Jill Magid, Courtesy of the artist and LABOR, Mexico City