Jill Magid, "The Proposal: The Dinner," Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico, July 19, 2014.
As the spectacle of the 2016 United States presidential elections played out over the summer, Mexico hosted a surreal visit by a well-known, polarizing New Yorker. Mirroring Trump in her own way, Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Jill Magid brandished symbols of wealth and messianic messaging, while conducting a master-class in media manipulation. Much ink was spilt last year on her controversial mission to insert herself “into the life of a dead man,” with her four-year project The Barragán Archives (2012-16). The work was generally celebrated by standard-bearer publications and has been widely circulated on social media. In Mexico, however, the reception to Magid’s work has been decidedly more ambivalent. And broader questions loom: how are journalists to report stories responsibly when truth seems to matter less than attention, and the very fact of reporting becomes, itself, a post-truth prop? With hollow justifications of “alternative facts” ringing in our ears daily, it feels more than slightly uncomfortable to lift another skillful prevaricator upon our shoulders.