THE PROPOSAL follows conceptual artist Jill Magid as she develops a radical project to explore artistic legacy. At its heart is the work of the Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán, which is aggressively “protected” and kept from the public by its copyright holders. By cultivating relationships with Barragán’s family, admirers, institutions, and the rights holders—including extensive correspondence with the director of the Barragan Foundation—Magid consequently constructs a thoughtful love story between the director, herself, and the architect. Ultimately, THE PROPOSAL is a startling, provocative work that forces the viewer into reckoning with how an artist’s story is told, and who is permitted to do the telling.
As a visual artist and writer, I use my work to create new perspectives to long-established structures of power in society.
During the past eighteen years, I’ve trained as a spy, a police officer, and as a war journalist. Gaining access to power systems takes research, trust, and a series of unorthodox requests, requiring constant negotiation. From the inside, I engage these systems in personal dialogue. From there, I’m able to raise questions and concerns on how we live in relation to them.
THE PROPOSAL is my first feature film and the last chapter of a larger project I began in 2013 called The Barragán Archives. The project explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect, and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work. For more than twenty years, this corporation has made his work largely inaccessible to the public. The film questions whether a single actor should be exclusively in control of how the world can engage with Barragán’s work.
As the film’s protagonist, I am aware that I am entering a story that has not previously involved me, and that my presence could affect its future, or a retelling of the past. I believe that it is crucial to discuss how artistic legacy is constructed, shaped, and manipulated. Does allowing the public to engage with an artwork in various ways and from multiple perspectives threaten its integrity, or make it more integral to society over time?
Almost as an invitation for image-making, Barragán was known to adjust a building’s design so that it would photograph better. With this film, I wanted to capture the overwhelming beauty of his work while simultaneously questioning the legal challenges one faces to do so. The film is in itself a proposal: A way to elicit dialogue about access to legacy and its proprietary nature, and not simply if the proposal will be accepted.
Intertwined with these pressing social questions is a quieter rumination on mortality and the relationship of the artist’s body to his or her body of work. Mortality permeates, in the aging of the architecture and within the intimate presence of three generations of the Barragán family. I wanted to present legacy as something potentially alive, and full of possibility. Transforming ashes into a diamond is an expression of possibility.
My work has long provoked questions about access to power and power relations, in a similar realm as the work of Adrian Piper, Tanya Bruguera, Trevor Paglen, and The Yes Men.
Jan Bijvoet - Theo
Jan Bijvoet was born in Antwerp in 1966. He has been one of the artistic directors and actors of the Antarctica Theater since 2005. He has also performed in film and television, guest-starring in a number of series. He has starred in the films AD FUNDUM, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Academy® Award nominee), and BORGMAN (Official Selection – Competition, Cannes 2013). In 2007, he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Award of Scenic Arts. Referring to the German explorer who was the inspiration for his character, he reflects that even though Grünberg tried to integrate with the native people, he could not let go of his white spirit. “He had the western way of thinking, and he wanted to carry hundreds of things to study. Love is possession, too. He is also afraid of death. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s because deep down, he is a materialist since his formation, even though he tries to drift away from it.”
Brionne Davis - Evan
Brionne Davis was born in Texas and started acting at a very early age, playing Tom Sawyer. He has starred and taken leading roles in more than 30 independent feature length and short films and television series, including REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008), DOROTHY AND THE WITCHES OF OZ (2012), Pandemic (2007), NARCISSIST (2014), SAVAGED (2013), and HOLIDAYS WITH HEATHER (2006). In New York, Brionne starred in the Theatre Row adaptation of Sam Shepard’s “True West.” He has appeared in many theater productions all across the country, including “Wallenburg” at the Soho Playhouse, “A Noble Exile” in Los Angeles and “Nueva York,” a one-man show that he wrote ￼ and produced, inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams. Davis’ character “Evan” in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was inspired by the great botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, and he feels close to him in his love of and search for plants and nature.
Antonio Bolívar Savador - Old Karamakate
Antonio Bolívar Salvador is one of the last survivors of the Ocaina people. He resides near Leticia and has had some previous experiences in filmmaking, but he prefers not to speak about them because he feels that they were disrespectful to his culture. Besides playing one of the main characters, he also served as interpreter for the Tikuna, Cubeo, Huitoto languages and even English, as he became the teacher of the international actors. He represents the best of the Amazonian people: willing to trust foreigners, to transmit their knowledge and thankful to be treated respectfully. That’s the most important aspect of the film to him: “It is a film that shows the Amazon, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter and the most valuable of indigenous cultures. That is its greatest achievement.”
Nilbio Torres - Young Karamakate
Nilbio Torres has never set foot in a gym; his amazing physique has been sculpted by the hardships of the jungle and the hard work he’s done since he was little. The 30- year-old has only worked in agriculture and this is his first experience with the cinema. He has a hard time expressing himself in Spanish, as he speaks mostly Cubeo. But he manages to find words to tell what this experience has meant to him. He feels the film is faithful to the story of his ancestors. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before: the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation. I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen in the film, that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.”
Yauenkü Miguee - Manduca
Yauenkü Miguee was born and raised in Nazareth, a Tikuna community of the Amazon, 26 years ago. He is now a student of physical education in Bogotá and is about to achieve his greatest goal: to become a professional. He defines his participation in the film as a new experience in his life, this time from the field of art and corporal expression, which reinforced his thinking and showed him how to see life from different perspectives. He believes this film should be shared not only with the people of the locations, but all across the country, with all the indigenous peoples in Leticia and the Amazon, with the leaders, in schools and universities. He is the voice of many Manducas, a voice that, far away from the so-called civilization, cries out for a more civilized attitude towards Colombia’s indigenous communities.
Jill Magid, Director
American artist and writer Jill Magid’s work is deeply ingrained in her lived experience, exploring and blurring the boundaries between art and life. Through her performance-based practice, Magid has initiated intimate relations with a number of organizations and structures of authority. She explores the emotional, philosophical and legal tensions between the individual and ‘protective’ institutions, such as intelligence agencies or the police. To work alongside or within large organizations, Magid makes use of institutional quirks, systemic loopholes that allow her to make contact with people ‘on the inside’. 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.
With solo exhibitions at institutions around the world including MUAC, Mexico City: Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Berkeley Museum of Art, California; Tate Liverpool; the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam; Yvon Lambert, Paris and New York; Gagosian Gallery, New York; and the Security and Intelligence Agency of the Netherlands, Magid has received awards from the Fonds Voor Beeldende Kunsten, the Netherland-American Foundation Fellowship Fulbright Grant, and most recently the 2017 Calder Prize. Magid has participated in Manifesta, the Liverpool, Bucharest, Singapore, Incheon, Gothenburg, Oslo and Performa Biennials. She is an Associate of the Art, Design and the Public Domain program at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and was a 2013-15 fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. An adjunct teacher at Cooper Union, Magid is the author of four novellas. Her work is included the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fundacion Jumex, and the Walker Art Center, among others.
Jarred Alterman, Producer and Cinematographer
Jarred Alterman is a New York-based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, who won best cinematography at Tribeca Film Festival for CONTEMPORARY COLOR, a multi-cam David Byrne concert/doc film directed by the Ross Bros. He has worked in music, art, and dance related projects for over two decades, including Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham Dance Co. He has recently lensed two Sundance premieres: Project X, a film by the Academy Award-winning director, Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR) and BISBEE’ 17 by Robert Greene. His first feature, CONVENTO, has played all over the world and won a special jury prize at IFFB.
Charlotte Cook, Producer
Charlotte Cook is a producer, curator, and writer from London, based in New York. Charlotte is a Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Field of Vision, a film unit that commissions filmmakers and artists to make short form, episodic and feature length creative visual journalism. Prior to Field of Vision, she was the Director of Programming at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival. In addition to her work at Field of Vision, Charlotte is currently a programmer at CPH:DOX and recently produced the films OUR NEW PRESIDENT (Sundance ‘18) and THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA (SXSW ‘18).
Laura Coxson, Producer
Laura Coxson is an NYC-based documentary producer. Her film, IRIS (2015), premiered at the 2014 New York Film Festival, was released by Magnolia Pictures and has grossed almost $2 million theatrically. She was an archival producer for a 2016 National Geographic TV series I Am Rebel Executive Produced by Doug Liman. Coxson produced THE LOVE WE MAKE (2012) with Paul McCartney for Showtime; MUHAMMAD AND LARRY (2009) for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series; and a Documentary Yearbook piece for the 81st Academy Awards. She previously worked for Janus films, notably on the theatrical release of THE GREAT BEAUTY (2013 Academy Award Winner- Foreign Language Film) as well as a July 4, 2014 re-release of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. In 2010, the IFC’s “Stranger than Fiction” chose her as one of the “Top 20 People Under 40” working in Film. Most recently, she produced CHEF FLYNN which premiered at Sundance and the Berlinale.
Hannah Buck, Editor
Hannah Buck is a New York-based editor who received her BA in Media Arts from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. She has worked as an editor on the award-winning feature AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY (Sundance, 2012), the impressionistic documentary TRIPTYCH (PBS, 2015), and 195 LEWIS (Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2016). In 2014, she was awarded a MacDowell Colony Residency Fellowship to edit Memories of a Penitent Heart and in 2015 was a fellow at the Sundance Edit and Story Lab.
T. Griffin, Composer
T. Griffin has composed scores for over 40 feature length films, and dozens of live and multimedia projects. Notable titles include the Academy-Award nominated LIFE, ANIMATED and multiple festival award winners QUEST, THE OVERNIGHTERS, and WELCOME TO LEITH as well as the recently Oscar Shortlisted ONE OF US. He has composed and toured live film/music events with filmmakers including Sam Green, Jem Cohen, Brent Green and Esther Robinson. These shows have toured internationally and been presented by The Barbican, BAM Next Wave, The Walker Art Center, The Melt Down Festival, Big Ears Festival, and dozens of other festivals and museums. Besides his work as a film composer and solo artist he has worked as a player and/or producer with luminaries of the independent music world including Patti Smith, Vic Chesnutt, Mary Margaret O'Hara and members of The Ex, Dirty Three, Fugazi, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He was a fellow at the Sundance Composers' Lab in 2008, and has twice been nominated for Cinema Eye Honors for Original Music Score. He is based in Brooklyn, New York.
Laura Poitras, Executive Producer
Laura Poitras is a filmmaker and journalist. Her film CITIZENFOUR won an Oscar for best documentary, as well as awards from BAFTA, Independent Spirit Awards, and the Directors Guild of America. The first film in her post-9/11 trilogy, MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, was nominated for an Oscar. The second film, THE OATH, was nominated for two Emmys. Her reporting on NSA surveillance received the George Polk Award for National Security journalism, and shared in the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service. Her most recent film, Risk premiered at the Cannes film festival in May 2016. She recently exhibited her first solo museum show at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
FIELD OF VISION
Launched in September 2015 at the New York Film Festival, Field of Vision is led by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras and curator & producer Charlotte Cook and is a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions and creates original short-form, episodic, and feature-length nonfiction films about developing and ongoing stories around the globe.
Work created by Field of Vision has been featured at major international film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, and Rotterdam, and has received the Best Short Form Series award at the International Documentary Association, a number of festival Grand Jury Prizes for Short Documentary, and a News and Documentary Emmy nomination. In addition, Field of Vision won the Webby Award for Online Film & Video – News & Politics: Series. Field of Vision is a unit of First Look Media.