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Press Release

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to announce Failed States, Jill Magid’s first solo show in Los Angeles. Magid will launch her new book, also entitled Failed States, in conjunction with the exhibition.

Failed States is an exploration of coincidence and poetics amid the barriers and bureaucracy of governmental power. In January 2010, while on a trip to research the history of snipers in Austin, Texas, Magid witnessed a mysterious shooting on the steps of the State Capitol. After attempting to speak with a state employee a young man named Fausto Cardenas exited the building and —in full view of security- fired six shots from a small caliber gun into the Texas sky. Cardenas has offered no explanation for his actions. Last August, after eighteen months of incarceration, he took a plea bargain, ultimately silencing himself.

In Failed States, Magid acts as eyewitness and dramaturge, drawing connections between Fausto’s futile and tragic act and Goethe’s nineteenth-century epic poem, Faust. Magid portrays Fausto as the tragic hero, guiding the relationship between the lone gunman and the famed literary protagonist to a histrionic effect. Failed States investigates Fausto’s abstract, almost surrealist, act as it is chronicled through an intermingling of personal and public, fact and fiction, words and actions.

Originally written as a “closet drama” – a play to be read rather than performed – Faust is now regularly presented on stage. In the installation of Failed States, the script is slowly unveiled through stage directions, prints, audio, photographs, news reports, and a live feed from the sky above the Capitol steps. The exhibition will feature Failed States — the work from which this exhibition takes its name – Magid’s 1993 Mercedes Benz station wagon. This car was originally purchased as Magid’s family car and has been subsequently armored to withstand gunfire common in war zones. While following Fausto’s case, Magid was training to be an embedded reporter in Afghanistan and learned about the “hard cars” or armored vehicles (usually Mercedes) designed to blend into local traffic. For a previous exhibition, this car was parked on the site where Fausto Cardenas had parked his car before approaching the Capitol in Austin. For her exhibition with Honor Fraser Gallery, Magid brings the car inside the gallery, embedding herself further into the drama.

Jill Magid is an artist and writer who infiltrates structures of authority and power by engaging their human side. Rather than treating these structures as subjects to challenge, she creates opportunities to draw them closer. Through dialogues and manipulations Magid finds her way in through introduction or invitation, often locating or exploiting a loophole in the system.

Jill Magid was born in Bridgeport, CT in 1973. She received her Master of Science in Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge and was an artist-in residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam from 2000-2. Solo exhibitions include those at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London, UK; Stroom and the AIVD (Dutch Secret Service), The Hague, NL; Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam; Berkeley Museum of Art; and at Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin; and Yvon Lambert, Paris, France and New York, NY. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at The Bucharest Biennial; The Singapore Biennial; The New Museum, New York; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Taipei; and Tate Museum, Liverpool, among others. Magid has performed at venues including Location One, New York; Museum Tamayo, Mexico City; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Magid currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

To order Failed States, the book, send an email to: or contact the gallery directly.

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