Alumna Jill Magid Wins Biannual $50,000 Calder Prize

Jill Magid Jill Magid, Awaiting Alexander Calder (2017). Photograph by Paula Court, courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
ACT at MIT

The Calder Foundation announced that Brooklyn-based artist, Jill Magid, has won the 2017 Calder Prize. Now in its seventh cycle, the Calder Prize is a grant issued biannually to a living artist who has “completed exemplary and innovative early work and who has demonstrated the potential to make a major contribution to the field.” Magid won the $50,000 prize in part for a performance piece based on the work of Alexander Calder that was commissioned by the Whitney Museum and included in its recent exhibition “Calder: Hypermobility.” The award also comes with the promise of placing one of the artist’s works in a major public collection.

According to an announcement by the Calder Foundation, it is noted that though Calder and Magid might seem unrelated, they share similar sense of objects in space. “In his mobiles and stabiles, Calder unites symmetry and asymmetry, or parity and disparity, in ways that assimilate the larger, unseen forces at work in the natural world,” the statement reads. “Likewise, Magid pulls on loose ends both tangible and intangible—probing seemingly impenetrable systems—and finds unification in disparate elements.”

This is the first year that the award includes a residency, which will be located at Calder’s personal estate in Roxbury, Connecticut. “I find it a very exciting invitation,” Magid told artnet News. “When I suggested to Sandy [Rower, the foundation’s president] that staying in Calder’s house might be like the experience I’d had staying in Luis Barragán’s house and studio in Mexico City, he disagreed, saying, ‘the Barragán house and studio is now a museum, and open to the public; Calder’s house is exactly how he left it. It’s as if he walked out to get a carton of milk and never came back.’”

Spanning sculpture, installation, and performance, Magid’s often-radical work is deeply rooted in her lived experience, and spans sculpture, installation, performance, and other media. These conceptually-driven projects often blur the boundaries between art and life, while exploring topics such as mass surveillance, tensions between the authority and the individual, as well as the notions of artistic intent, intellectual property, and consent. For example, for her 1999 project, Lobby 7, Magid hacked the MIT surveillance monitors in Lobby 7 and broadcast intimate images of herself.

Magid’s work is deeply rooted in her lived experience, often exploring and blurring the boundaries between art and life. According to her personal website, “her work tends to be characterized by the dynamics of seduction, the resulting narratives often taking the form of a love story. It is typical of Magid’s practice that she follows the rules of engagement with an institution to the letter – sometimes to the point of absurdity.”