Best known for an artwork commissioned (and later confiscated) by the Dutch intelligence agency, Jill Magid brings her fascination with infiltration to L.A. for the first time in an elegant installation at Honor Fraser. It examines the case of Fausto Cardenas, a young man arrested in 2010 for firing six shots into the air — randomly, it seems — on the steps of the Capitol in Austin, Texas.
Magid happened to see the shooting, and quickly became part of the narrative, appearing as an eyewitness on the news and following the case obsessively. The resulting installation — including text, news footage, a live video feed from the capitol building, and an armored Mercedes-Benz — explores the ineffable gulf between actions and words.
Cardenas gave no explanation for his act, and Magid intertwines her own story with what little she knows of his, orchestrating their interplay in wall texts that resemble stage directions. This conceit is drawn from Goethe’s epic drama “Faust,” chosen for its titular similarity to the gunman’s name, but also for its internal narrative of a tragic deal with the devil.
Faust’s monologues can be seen as a stand-in for Cardenas’ missing one. A passage from the text, reproduced as a silkscreen, charts Faust’s transition from the primacy of the biblical “Word” to the importance of action. Next to this sits the armored car — a blunt physical precaution against any random hail of bullets. Both contrast starkly with the babble of the news clips playing nearby. Words only dance around what really happened, leaving a void at the center of the story.