For years, conceptual artist Jill Magid has been trying to get the Swiss furniture company Vitra to ease its tight grip on the archives of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán. And its been just as much an artistic project as an activist one, with Magid incorporating the documentation of her efforts into various exhibitions and installations. But The Barragán Archives series is most known for one headline-grabbing, highly controversial move. Magid had Barragán’s burial vault exhumed, took some of his ashes from their resting place, and had the ashes pressed into a diamond. The diamond was then set into a ring which she offered to Frederica Zanco, who controls access to the archive.
In keeping with her careful recording of the process, Magid has filmed much of it. That material has itself been turned into yet another element of the series: a feature-length documentary titled The Proposal. After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and touring the festival circuit over the past year, the film will begin its theatrical run in May. Hyperallergic has the exclusive premiere of the film’s trailer, which provides a good taste of its off-kilter tone. I liked it when I saw it at the Camden International Film Festival last year, and anyone who’s interested Magid, Barragán, accessibility issues within art, or just incredibly unlikely stories should give it a look. As of now, Magid’s efforts to unlock the Barragán archives have proved fruitless, but wider exposure of the story may yet change that.
The Proposal opens in New York at the IFC Center on May 24 and in Los Angeles at the Monica Film Center on May 31, with a national expansion to follow.