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Swing through NWFF’s Capitol Hill Hub for sweet and salty snacks, a talk on design aesthetics in modern consumer culture, multiple showtimes of “The Proposal” by Jill Magid, and a conversation following the 6pm screening.
Famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán is known as “the artist among architects.” Attempting to free Barragán’s artwork from the Swiss bunker where it has been interred for decades after his death, boundary-redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that’s a fascinating artwork in itself – a high-wire act of negotiation exploring how far an artist can go to democratize access to art.
Northwest Film Forum co-presents this program with On the Boards on the occasion of their 40th Anniversary season, In the Future’s Wake: Rituals, Ceremonies, and Happenings, featuring contemporary performances that probe the uncertainty of our collective present, even as they invite us to envision possible tomorrows.
As a visual artist and writer, I use my work to create new perspectives to long-established structures of power in society.
The Proposal is my first feature film and the last chapter of a larger project I began in 2013 called The Barragán Archives. The project explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect, and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work. For more than twenty years, this corporation has made his work largely inaccessible to the public. The film questions whether a single actor should be exclusively in control of how the world can engage with Barragán’s work.
As the film’s protagonist, I am aware that I am entering a story that has not previously involved me, and that my presence could affect its future, or a retelling of the past. I believe that it is crucial to discuss how artistic legacy is constructed, shaped, and manipulated. Does allowing the public to engage with an artwork in various ways and from multiple perspectives threaten its integrity, or make it more integral to society over time?
Almost as an invitation for image-making, Barragán was known to adjust a buildings’ design so that it would photograph better. With this film, I wanted to capture the overwhelming beauty of his work while simultaneously questioning the legal challenges one faces to do so. The film is in itself a proposal: A way to elicit dialogue about access to legacy and its proprietary nature, and not simply if the proposal will be accepted.
Intertwined with these pressing social questions is a quieter rumination on mortality and the relationship of the artist’s body to his or her body of work. Mortality permeates, in the aging of the architecture and within the intimate presence of three generations of the Barragán family. I wanted to present legacy as something potentially alive, and full of possibility. Transforming ashes into a diamond is an expression of possibility.