Remembering Hurricane Earl


Jill Magid: “Una carta siempre llega a su destino”. Los Archivos Barragán. MUAC, 2017.

Last year when I was first spending extended time at Chan Chich Lodge, I got to experience the reality of what had up to then been a cliche phrase–a force of nature. I had some minor experience with earthquakes, certainly other-worldy, and I have witnessed flooding and historic snowstorms. Nothing had ever exhilarated me for hours on end the way this hurricane did.

And what I chose to do during that experience has stuck with me as much as the hurricane itself. So I had to visit the website of the museum where this exhibit is hosted. And I had to read what happened after the end of that story:

…One premise of Magid’s work is that the ring is not and will never be for sale. It can be accepted only by Zanco and only in exchange for the archive… When addressing claims that she had disrespected Barragán’s legacy, she shook her head. “Not only do I love his work, but the questions around his archive—what is accessible and what is not—affect the way his legacy goes forward,” she said.“Things that have come from your side of the table, include asking me to destroy an art work and to censor a show. These are demands, demands for silence. I am working against the questions of silence.” The audience erupted in cheers.

By this point, the discussion, which had been largely philosophical, had turned to what, exactly, the project had revealed about local customs regarding art preservation, the sufficiency of current laws to protect human remains, and Mexico’s responsibility to preserve its own culturea question that was argued bitterly when Barragán’s professional archive left the country, years earlier. Magid started to look more relaxed. “I felt a great sense of relief,” she told me later. She was glad to know that the work’s provocations were working. The moderator wrapped up the discussion, and, just before Medina announced the exhibition open, he took a small bow. “So,” he said, “We invite you to see the Minotaur.”

Upstairs, the ring sat in a velvet box behind glass. In anticipation of the forthcoming crowds, museum guards were already in the galleries. They paced, waiting for the doors to open, and intermittently peered at the diamond, which was illuminated by a spotlight in an otherwise dark display case. As many visitors would remark later in the night, it looked quite small.

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