Critics’ Picks

Our Contract, 2007, Speer Gold Dot 9-mm hollow-point bullet from the officer’s gun under Level 1 bullet-resistant acrylic, dimensions variable.

New York

Jill Magid

Gagosian | 980 Madison Avenue
980 Madison Avenue
June 27–August 24

Wrapped in a red trench coat, eyes closed shut amid a milling crowd, Jill Magid might be the ingenue lead of a New Wave film, only the city is not Paris but Liverpool, the jerky cinematography not that of Raoul Coutard but the video-surveillance program Citywatch, and the offhand narrator an officer stationed at a closed-circuit television who directs her safely through the streets by means of a radio nestled in her ear. Whether it be this trust exercise mediated by a security camera or, as in another piece, a consent form redrafted as a love letter, Jill Magid’s beguiling work plays along the dotted lines of bureaucracy and uncovers the libidinal impulse beneath learning to love Big Brother. The most compelling and ethically complicated of these flirtations with authority is Lincoln Ocean Victor Eddy (police code for love), 2006–2007, a suite of works documenting the five months Magid spent shadowing a New York City police officer on his night shift. The accompanying sixty-four-page “novella” offers a chaste yet illicit romance that reads alternately as a genuine bond and as a wary alliance between an agent of the law and an artist whose practice is dynamic enough to take even a relationship as its readymade. Magid attempts to reconstruct her experience through text, photographs, video, and a single object encased in high-grade acrylic: a hollow-point bullet the officer broke all manner of regulations to gift her. Transporting this ammunition, Gagosian’s informational materials dutifully tell us, is a felony, which raises the question of the greater violation at hand: the possession of contraband or the public presentation of such a loaded keepsake.