Jill Magid
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Jill Magid

I seek intimate relationships with impersonal structures, and prepare for our seduction.

To be seduced is to challenge the other to be seduced in turn. Seduction is an engagement; it is neither a representation, nor an interpretation. It is a cycle, to be played back and forth, against an end. Once seduced, a system moves from an exercise of power to a form of exchange.

Systems and technologies are created based on need, real or imaginary. I am interested in the appearance of this need, and how a system or technology is invented and inserted to deal with it. My attraction to new technologies is their ability to highlight what we think we need now, and their impossible task to full this:

Surveillance systems for the feeling or appearance of security; diamonds from human cremains to preserve a life and a love; systems of identification to locate a subject(ivity).

A system is slowed down when it is engaged on a personal level. This is a system's loose end, and its open invitation. The challenge to its promise is built in. I choose to take this up .

 This being said, I do not think the work I make changes the system at its infrastructure, but at the level of its appearances. I use the system, via of its latent qualities, for an intimate and poetic experience, in an overlap of my needs and its promises.

My initial encounters with public systems of surveillance appeared as interventions. I made performances using localized CCTV systems, without their authorization, inserting myself into them by overriding their signals with my own. I used the system to reconstruct my representation, for myself and for those in the space of the action. (www.jillmagid.net/Lobby7.htm)

My desire grew for the system to respond. I wanted to instigate seduction, a game to be played out between us.

An institution is a body. I imagine it as a singular body or being, and this is always personal. Cities are the same. Each institution, each city, has a personality with qualities, character traits and moods. I want to have a relationship with this body. For me it's a sensual experience. I cannot relate to an institution in general terms. I make it a person or a lover in my mind and relate to its body with my own.

I am attracted to the disproportionate scale of my body to their body, and provoked by the exclusive barrier that divides us: their closed system verses my position outside of it. I look for a way to cross over, to get incorporated, to shrink them down to my size. I like the fact that we form a connection, and that our connection is inherently fragile.

The systems I choose to work with function at a distance, with a wide-angle perspective, equalizing everyone and erasing the individual. I seek the potential softness and intimacy of their technologies, the fallacy of their omniscient point of view, the ways in which they hold memory (yet often cease to remember), their engrained position in society (the cause of their invisibility), their authority, their apparent intangibility- and, with all of this, their potential reversibility.

I enter the system in a role I have invented: as Head Security Ornamentation Professional of System Azure ( www.systemazure.com ) in the ornamentation of police headquarters, as the subject of Log #2887 in the Liverpool Police department's Evidence Locker, as the Consultant for Personal Data at Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service.

…I recognize my image as a sign and change my image in order to signify…

This is a social engagement.

It is a beautiful thing when a tool transcends its assigned function. The expectation of the tool creates the ground for its subversion, and in doing so, the symbolic order or ‘truth' of the system is permanently exposed.

As for the presentation of this experience in the context of art, the viewer is a witness. and a potential player. But if the viewer wants to play he or she must start a new game. I do not give them the game to play, but distill my game for them to see.

If the viewer is asked to engage, it is to start a new seduction (ex. As the Benefactor in Auto Portrait Pending www.jillmagid.net/AutoPortriat.htm).

To make my projects realities, they often must be funded. The art world, when considered as a commercial space, is limiting if the artwork is not something inherently sellable- if I am not creating representations but enacting social engagements. The contract (real or implied) for another to engage with me is a material of that work; i.e. work made with permission is a condition of the work. Perhaps this can be true of money. I am attempting to develop this in my practice, to design the exchange of money as a material of the work, so that ‘support' is not blind, but produces a meaning of its own. Perhaps in a seduction, the exchange of money can be a way to raise the stakes.

I realize this can backfire.

When the system or institution engages with me- if it furthermore exchanges with me, it makes itself accountable for what happens between us.

Public funding should support social engagements that propose new relations, and thus new meanings, within existing social and public systems of authority. This includes their subversion.

 

Introduction to Jill Magid's Work

Seeking out intimate spaces within the public domain, I began working with closed circuit video cameras, interposing my own body within that of the social and institutional.

In early performances I employed CCD cameras to explore the surface of my body in public space, by intervening with localized surveillance systems (www.jillmagid.net/Lobby7.htm). In 2002 I started the project System Azure , re-inventing myself as ‘Head Security Ornamentation Professional', transforming security cameras into architectural ornaments, and persuading the police to hire me to decorate their security cameras with fake jewels (www.systemazure.com ).

These lines of investigation were combined in the project Evidence Locker, as a seductive play with the city of Liverpool's CCTV infrastructure. For this project, I spent 31 days in Liverpool—the amount of time CCTV footage is stored, unless it is used as evidence. Wearing a red coat I was continually followed by the CCTV cameras, as an intimate relationship between myself and 'the Observer' developed. The installation consists of a variety of formats, including text, video, audio, and a website. ( www.evidencelocker.net ),

While Evidence Locker invited constant visibility, Libration Point (2005) has been an effort to erase it. ( www.libration-point.net ). As a series of works made with the help of forensic artists and criminal investigators, among others, Libration Point exploits systems of observation and identification to produce invisibility. The works all point to a woman whose identity and physical appearance remain impalpable, in spite of the attention that is directed towards her.

Whether as director or performer, I employ the disciplinary systems of society to weave narrative patters and generate intimate encounters, that would otherwise not be possible without their application.

 

Biography- Jill Magid

After receiving a Masters of Science in Visual Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000, Magid relocated to Amsterdam, NL as a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, and has since been showing internationally. A solo exhibition of her new works, Libration Point , was recently exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Her work has been included in shows at De Appel in Amsterdam, Balance and Power : Performance and Surveillance in Video Art curated by Michael Rush at the Krannert Art Museum in Illinois, Positioning statement | Image Cairo 3 in Cairo, Egypt, DMZ 2005_Korea : A project between North and South Korea, and at the Liverpool Biennial International '04.

She is currently based in New York City and is a visiting artist at Cooper Union.