University of Chicago
5811 S. Ellis Ave.
Cobb Hall, 4th fl.
Chicago, IL, 60637
In each of her in-depth projects, Jill Magid becomes intimately involved with different structures of authority, whether government bureaucracies, a secret service agency, or the guardians of other artists’ estates. Gaining access through systemic loopholes or contact with people on the inside, she follows the rules of engagement with each institution and draws out their internal logics. In a way, she becomes a stand-in for any person trying to navigate something much larger than themselves.
As the pandemic began last year, the complex relationships between individuals, groups of people, institutions, and deeply-rooted systems quickly came into stark relief. Magid was especially struck by the way public figures weighed the loss of human lives against the supposed costs for the economy. Against this backdrop, she began developing a project that would take multiple forms over time, while centering on the circulation of pennies, as they’re exchanged by hand and within the economy at large.
Featuring the premiere of a new film and other new works, Jill Magid's Tender: Balance at the Renaissance Society follows the movement of pennies and some of their afterlives, while thinking about absence, loss, and traces left behind. Reflecting her unique approach as an artist, the exhibition has aspects that are intimate and poetic while also observing broader systems around us—in this case the intertwining of the economy and the lives of individual people.
While developing new threads, Tender: Balance unfolds in parallel to Magid's monumental but nearly-invisible public artwork, Tender, produced by Creative Time in New York starting last fall. For Tender, Magid engraved the edges of 120,000 new US pennies with the words ‘THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE' and quietly put them into everyday circulation, where they can only be experienced in intimate and unscripted ways, one penny at a time—or more likely, simply as a rumor. At the Renaissance Society, in contrast, as Magid presents a new film and other new works, the project comes to rest, but only momentarily, as the latest chapter in an ongoing story.