A letter to Jill Magid, by Daniel Garza-Usabiaga

Abril, 2017

Dear Jill Magid,

First, allow me to explain just why I am writing to you. This past April 4th I was invited to attend a meeting with Dr. Jorge Volpi, Coordinator for Difusión Cultural at the UNAM, for the purpose of presenting your project in Mexico. I believe you are aware that last year I was interviewed by Pamela Ballesteros for GASTV —an interview subsequently published in two parts. During that interview I spoke of your artistic project, though mostly I touched on a series of misunderstandings and assumptions sustained, primarily as refers to Barragan and his documentary collections. Then I went on to speak of his work and of matters pertaining to the narrative and production of some of your artistic pieces. I believe that as a result of this intervention I was labeled as belonging to a group of “dissenters” or “objectors” regarding your project. At the meeting with Dr. Volpi, I was invited to take part in a series of conferences, to be held within the framework of your exhibition at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), in which topics related to your work will be discussed. At that meeting I asked if you were also taking part in these talks, and was informed that you were not. I found this quite odd. Hence, I decided not to take part unless I could speak to you personally. That was a personal request, submitted in writing, and which I later discussed with one of the curators of your exhibition, Dr. Cuauhtémoc Medina. The reason I want to talk to you is that, in my opinion, the questions I have can only be answered by you; they are related to your project and experience with the two of Barragan’s documentary collections, namely the one in Switzerland and the one here, and my questions are also related to your experience whilst carrying out the project in Mexico.

Regrettably, this personal meeting did not take place, and it was decided to set up a panel comprising the exhibition’s curators. I greatly respect this decision, however, despite being invited to become a part of this panel, I elected not to. As I have already mentioned, I wished to sustain a conversation with you, I have no questions regarding the institution. I have been a public museum employee myself; therefore, I respect collegiate decision-making and applaud defending this during times of external or internal pressure. I have no interest in learning why it was decided to include your exhibition in the program, nor how much its production cost amounted to.

Upon being unable to speak to you personally, I resort to writing this letter. I was reminded of the rather personal letters and certain requests that you sent to Federica Zanco over several years, and concluded that the best approach at this time is to reinterpret your epistolary strategy, as it appears to be a means that you are comfortable with.

I maintain, as I did in the interview, that your project encourages a series of misunderstandings and assumptions, and on occasion even false information regarding Barragán and his legacy, as well as his documentary collections. I believe that said misunderstandings and assumptions should be dispelled. Particularly when the press and institutions continue repeating and institutionalizing these misunderstandings and errors. I also want to embark on a discussion −one of the purposes of your work− regarding the relationship between the art object and its production process, out of consideration for certain procedures related to institutions and foundations in Mexico that permitted and supported moving your project forward. Lastly, there are certain narrative aspects contained in the fiction that underpins your project that I believe need to be dealt with. I drew up some general questions resulting from different topics: the legacy, copyright and access (regarding the Barragan Foundation in Switzerland), the historiography (Barragan’s), post-colonialism, becoming a diamond, and public institutions. For some of these I have expanded my ideas on the issues that we might have talked about; for others, I have tried to dispel misunderstandings, or even correct erroneous information that for one reason or another has spread. For yet others, I write nothing, for I would await your response to embark on a conversation. I do hope that the length of this letter does not appear to be excessive or tedious to you.

So, Jill, here they are:

The legacy

When one speaks of Barragan’s legacy, the will itself is the key document. I suppose that in a project such as yours, regarding the property of the architect’s legacy, this might be considered highly relevant. Am I right? On several occasions you have stated that in his will Barragan left his “professional” archive to his partner Raúl Ferrera, of the firm Luis Barragan Raúl Ferrera Arquitectos, established in 1979, whereas his “personal archive” was given to a group of architects [1]. I imagine that when you mention this group of architects you are referring to those who one year after Barragan’s death founded the Fundación de Arquitectura Tapatía (FAT) in 1989 in order to protect, study and promote Luis Barragan’s legacy in Mexico. You never clarify this, but I assume this is what you refer to. Am I right or wrong? This narrative about the will has been repeatedly published in the press and by the curators of your shows.

The first thing I would clarify is that the will does not state what you mention. If you read it, it seems necessary for you to explain why you decided to change the narrative. The archive, as is well known and you clearly stated, became the property of the architect Ferrera; however, that which you have called “personal archive” appears nowhere in the will. The will speaks of “personal objects” that a friend of Barragan’s inherited. [2]. I am unaware of how this set of documents came to be in the custody or property of the FAT. To state that Barragan left his “personal archive” to a group of architects is to create a false image, one in which, before his death, the architect had designated a group of individuals as the executors and protectors of his legacy. This is untrue; said group had not even been formalized at the time of Barragan’s death.

In your statements you also provide false information regarding the inheritance of the library, for architect Ferrera did not inherit the latter, as you say. I will pause a moment here, for the library is an interesting case to discuss. You never mention that Barragan gave the library to his friend, the outstanding architect, Ignacio Diaz Morales, for the purpose of selecting an institution of his choice so that thus the libraries of both might serve to establish a public library −specializing in architecture and art− in the city of Guadalajara. Ignacio Diaz Morales, a man of stature, fulfilled Barragan’s will and encouraged the establishment of the FAT until, after his death, in 2001 a group of members of the FAT decided to transfer said library to Casa Barragan in Mexico City, where it functions to this day practically as a decoration. You may be unaware, but this was the first division within the FAT, leading to the withdrawal of nearly half of its original members, who desired to respect the wishes and wills of both Barragán and Diaz Morales. The library at Casa Barragan is proof that in Mexico Barragán’s legacy is neither fully public nor completely accessible. The volumes contained in the library cannot be consulted, directly contrary to the architect’s wishes. This situation has prevailed for over 15 years, by a decision reached by the FAT. Their reasoning is not questioned. I cannot criticize that. All foundations take the steps they deem necessary to safeguard their legacy and collections; as both a historian and a researcher, I respect this. However, Jill, this minor detail reveals a major contradiction regarding the demands for access in your project, don’t you think? In Switzerland it is imperative that the archive be of quasi-indiscriminate access, whereas here it is impossible to consult a book –contrary to Barragan’s and Diaz Morales’ wishes.

To bring up the will opens the discussion up on the primary sources of your project, especially as relates to Barragan and his legacy. I am under the impression, though I may be wrong, that your research contains a lot of oral history. Oral history is a legitimate method to make history; nevertheless, I believe that a researcher, or anyone for that matter, must possess the judgment and sagacity to recognize a bias or vested interest in a story. This comes to mind as concerns the history between the FAT and the Barragan Foundation in Switzerland, bearing in mind that some of the members of the Mexican foundation supported your project. Allow me to ask if you are familiar with the history of what might be called the “diplomatic relations” between the Mexican and the Swiss foundations… If you are, how then would you describe the terms of this relationship?

I could tell you what everyone can investigate through documentary sources, which I reference herein at all times. When the Barragan archive was acquired in New York and subsequently transferred to Switzerland, a tense process developed between the two foundations. The history of the relationship between the two bodies has evolved over time. In recent times the Mexican contingent’s stance can be described in the following statements. Juan Palomar, member of the FAT and its first chairman, introduced a couple of personalities in one of his notes, published in a Guadalajara newspaper: “Some twenty-five years ago, Mr. Alvaro Siza curtly informed, more or less, a couple of purported Swiss art connoisseurs that: ‘If you really want to see good architecture, go to Mexico and ask about Luis Barragan’. The Swiss came, their lives were changed.” [3]. Regarding academic research, Palomar refers to “those pretentious ‘reasoned catalogues’ that Europe plows on indefatigably attempting to produce without being able to differentiate Tepatitlán from Tepoztlán” [4]. As regards the director of the Barragan Foundation, Alice Gregory’s article in The New Yorker can be read. In it she quotes Maria Palomar, Juan Palomar’s sister and founding member of the FAT, saying: “Federica is a nuisance, that’s all ” [5]. Any reasonable researcher or individual would consider these to be warning signals to reconsider the partiality of the sources. I believe it is easy enough to label this as a practice that encourages smearing. I am bringing up the Palomar case because, according to the documents that you included in the publication of The Proposal, he appears as one your projects’ facilitators in Mexico. According to Hugo Barragan Hermosillo, Palomar was among those that convened and attended the dinner where you negotiated the extraction of the architect´s ashes with some of the Barragan family members [6]. This event was held at the Museo de Arte de Zapopan (MAZ), directed by Viviana Kuri, his wife [7]. Jill, these are some of the reasons why four of us, members of the FAT, withdrew last year, a matter that some of us have discussed publicly [8]. Let me ask: what do you think of this attempt to discredit some of your collaborators? How does your project gets situated in relation to their stance?

I believe that the Barragan Foundation’s posture could be the subject of some critical points; I believe that there is nobody better suited to dispel any concerns shared by those involved in matters pertaining to Barragán’s legacy than the foundation itself. However, to date, no institution presenting your work has invited anyone from the Barragan Foundation to sit down at the table and discuss it. As I said in the interview, I believe that this strategy evinces some of the narrative weaknesses contained in your project, in addition to promoting a partial vision.


Before asking you some specific questions regarding copyright and the accessibility of the archives (as strictly related to your project) I believe it is necessary to touch on a few points in the narrative itself. It seems to me that you and the persons who argue in favor of your work tend to compound three independent entities into one single one. The narrative of The Proposal regarding the engagement ring, which at a given point you called a “Gothic romance” and in my interview I call a “fairy tale”, enables a sort of crafty discourse that works in your favor. The narrative confuses a corporation (Vitra), a foundation (Barragan Foundation) and an individual (Federica Zanco), merging all three into an entity worthy of Gothic terror: the academic-corporate woman. As you know, Jill, these are three entirely different things. The first is a family company that makes furniture, and, in addition to supporting the foundation, also supports an autonomous museum (Vitra Design Museum) with its collections, committees of experts, curators, etc. The second is a center for studies where three employees (a good number for an archive) study Barragan’s architecture. The third is an individual with a personal, professional and emotional life. Your narrative merges the three into one person: Federica Zanco, who embodies both the construction of knowledge and the attributes that can generally be linked to a “corporation”. To many people, this conjures a monster.

On one hand, within the boundaries of more institutionalized academia, in our country and in others, there are those who appear to be predisposed to thinking that privately funded academic research is, by definition, compromised, or worse yet, deficient (this perspective generally comes within a position of privilege, obviously). I don’t believe this to be the case; I found no need to resort to a polarized perspective. To believe it would be tantamount to believing that the content of an exhibition funded by a private sponsor in a public museum would also be compromised or deficient. On the other hand, Jill, let’s be honest: nobody thinks nice thoughts upon hearing the words “corporation” or “corporate”. In this regard, your Gothic romance is very Frankenstein-ish, you have given birth to a veritable monster (female), an academic-corporate version, who with one hand writes illegitimate knowledge while counting the earnings from capitalizing on this with the other hand. The end result is the perfect nightmarish villain for any artistic or curatorial project of institutional critique.

However, we know, Jill, that the three are very different and operate in different ways. Not taking this into account has led to confusion. Because, logically, how does one expect the director of the foundation (Federica Zanco), who is not the owner of the archive, to return it? The archive was acquired as part of the collections held by Vitra Design Museum, the ownership deed does not belong to Zanco, even if she is married to the company’s emeritus chairman. The plot in your project is reminiscent of a specific image that comes to my mind. As a boy I watched the series Dynasty and Dallas, being shown in Mexico. I am sure you are familiar with them. I was a fan of Dallas. The corporate-romantic relations churning around oil in this TV series (a product of the culture industry) are similar to those woven into your narrative: the engagement ring, the archive, you, the foundation’s director and her husband. Series such as Dallas were filled with female characters like this, women who got what they wanted from their millionaire husbands mainly because they were women, or because of sex, or being young, etc. There is something kitsch in all this that also plays in your favor. Maybe that’s why your narrative seems charming or poetic to some.

Copyright and access

Keeping in mind that for all practical purposes there are three independent entities here, to carry out your project you had contact with both Federica Zanco and the Barragan Foundation. You wrote love letters to Zanco as part of your artistic project, which I have no problem with. When dealing with the foundation, what was your relationship like? When you made contact, did you ask them about guidelines and procedures for access and reproduction? I ask because in your project you tend not to show the formal documentation on these procedures. I am aware that in the case of copyright the intention behind some of your pieces was to take the degree of reproduction of image or object to the limit in order to avoid any legal action in terms of copyright. Insofar as I have seen, the Barragan Foundation has not sued any of the numerous artists who have produced works related to the architect and/or his work. The guidelines, which you probably requested or were conveyed to you, convey the manner in which the copyright is to be applied as concerns artistic production: there are no regulatory controls established (as in censoring, for example). The truth is that I don’t think you would have been sued even if you had reproduced the object itself. That is my opinion.

Restricted access to the Barragan archive in Switzerland, as I explained in my interview, is due to the investigative processes underway at the site. When I visited the facilities, I did not work, or research, and there was no discretionary treatment. Why did you expect something like that?

As I also mentioned in my interview, although access is restricted, the Barragan Foundation has supported the projects of various individuals and institutions through certain procedures and formal petitions. An example of this is the MUAC, the University Museum of Contemporary Art. As regards access to the archive or petitioning of information, you presented a research project, a commonplace procedure for any university, museum, or other type of library. Is it likely that the specialists and/or experts who work at the foundation did not consider it appropriate? Jill, I too, on occasion, think that art is the center of the universe, but the truth is that architecture historians don’t necessarily think in the same manner. I think that safeguarding an archive –at once artistic and historic- cannot be circumscribed to the label of “unrestricted access to information” as readily as you seem to believe. Were issues like insurance or transportation taken care of? I mean, all these are practical matters of means and timeframes that any institution deems very important, and that can result in a denial of the petition if they are not carried out properly. In Mexico, Jill, these demand a lot of red tape and are lengthy processes. Please tell me how you carried out these procedures. I am not being merely inquisitive, nor do I intend to reproach you; my curiosity is the result of a feeling, an age-old saying, much used in this country: how you ask is how you shall receive.”


Your work on Barragan takes place in the sphere of history; your narrative summons Barragán, his libeled partner, and more. In fact, you have spoken of your interest in Barragan and his work, and, on occasion you have come across as knowing the architect well as an object of study. You have also produced pieces that bespeak his history, i.e. your faithful reproduction of the door in his home. You explained that the height of the door is in keeping with Barragan’s height. I know that this is one of the anecdotes or curious tidbits of information that the young people who offer guided tours at Casa Barragan mention. This, then, leads me to once again ask you about the sources of information and authors you consulted for the development of your project. What part of the information that you received came from oral anecdotes? As for oral history, do you consider that the entirety of your interviewees offer a plural sample?

I have heard that your defenders and the supporters of your initiative believe that one of its virtues is that it questions the control of the historiography of a Mexican personality (Barragan) in the hands of a foreign foundation. I fully agree that we should critique all historic constructs, wherever these take place. Therefore, let me ask if you considered that there is also a particular historic construct on this personality in Mexico; did you think about who wrote it and how it has been capitalized on? I am sure that you have seen at least one of the numerous publications in the form of coffee table books that circulate in Mexico on Barragan. As you know, the architect and his work are very attractive in the market and this type of publications sells a lot. In fact, everything related to Barragan sells very well, now more than ever before. A publication like this might appear to some to be of no consequence; however, I believe that there are more lucrative ways to capitalize on Barragan and with associations to his name and biography.

I personally believe that there is a specific historic construct regarding Barragan in Mexico, I may be wrong, but I don’t believe I am. We can discuss this at a later moment, and discuss how your work is situated regarding to this. Namely, whether you question it or embraced it. If you read the existing body of reference work that circulates locally you will note that most repeat the same narratives, and this has been going on for a long time. By way of example, it has been said that the Casa Gilardi (1976) should be considered Barragan’s last work. The argument that underpins this thesis is that when it was built Barragan was already very ill, with limited mobility, thus unable to fully supervise the work. It is my opinion that this would not have hindered him from thinking, stating opinions and even designing projects in his study or office. In Mexico, it is commonly thought that Barragan had nothing to do with the works built in Monterrey during the first half of the eighties, including the Faro de Comercio (1984), which is, in my opinion, spectacular. Rather, they are attributed exclusively to Ferrera. This view appears even in writing in various books and academic articles.

Jill, what do you think might happen when a reasoned catalogue, supported by documentation, whether pretentious or not, shows proof that Barragan did participate actively in the development of those projects? What will become of all those coffee table books? What will happen to all that historiography –that has been so capitalized on! It may be questioned, and even displaced. Once again, I have nothing against oral history, but I naturally distrust phrases that begin with “Barragan said…” or “Barragan liked…” The cream of the crop of shallow comments regarding this type of oral register emerged in many of the notes that referred to your work last year. In many of these, Barragan is presented as a man sporting an ascot at the Country Club, as a repressed Catholic, a man boasting Cadillacs and horses, the friend and lover of Iman (lol). Ah, and lest I forget, the closet homosexual. For years I have watched the most brilliant minds of my generation trying to discern whether Barragan was entangled with men or not. To date, this enigma remains unsolved!

Never has it occurred to me that the work carried out by the Barragan Foundation in the field of historiography should not be subjected to academic scrutiny; quite the contrary, this should be done rigorously, but not until such time as the work is ready. There is a complaint about the historiographical control on Barragán given that the results of the comprehensive study on his complete works are not in. The products made available thus far by the Barragan Foundation are the catalogue on the exhibition Luis Barragan. La revolución callada —that includes an essay written by the director of the foundation, Federica Zanco in addition to other texts authored by Mexican and international scholars— as well as two editions of the first guidebook to the buildings that are still standing in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. How about if, in the framework of one of the debates organized to discuss your exhibition, a panel of experts is called on to assess these publications? And, if shortcomings or omissions are detected, embark on a historiographical debate based on the results of real research.


To be honest, Jill, post-colonial theory is not one of my field of expertise. So, let me turn to someone else. During a press interview, Pamela Echeverría, director of LABOR, your gallery in Mexico, upon explaining the project’s aims, asked the following question: “What does it mean when a Swiss corporation holds Mexican cultural legacy in its hands? This is the crux of the matter, and all involved in this project are keen on this point.” [9] To me this is a rather simple post-colonial interpretation of the issue, one in which the “foreign villain” (the corporation) robs us of our heritage for its own benefit. This interpretation is encouraged even more by the central character in your Gothic narrative. This, in my opinion, is a problematic argument since it can be applied in the same way to institutions or individuals who have collected art, objects, documents or archives in the United States, France, Canada or Spain, to mention just some of the countries who possess items that belong to “Mexico’s cultural heritage”. Echeverría adds to her statements: “Why is a colonial-minded woman in Switzerland deciding what can be said and what cannot be said about a Mexican architect?” [10]

I am sorry to be the one to be the one to break this to you, but there are some Mexicans who think of your position under the same light: Why is there an American (United States) artist deciding what can be done or not done with the remains and legacy of a Mexican architect? What can you say about that? Also, could you expand on this discussion as concerns financing for the production of your project coming from institutions in the United States, such as the San Francisco Art Institute −SFAI. When you presented your project there, the press release stated that your initiative met with the support of the Mexican government. Do you know why it was decided to include that statement when to date no Mexican agency has supported your proposal, either publicly of openly? To say “the Mexican Government” says it all, yet says nothing. It could mean a municipal government in the state of Jalisco or as far-reaching as the President of Mexico.

On becoming a diamond

To become a diamond has become a repetitive strategy in your production. For one of your pieces, Auto Portrait Pending (2005), you decided that upon dying part of your ashes will become a diamond. I might be wrong, but I presume that for this project you consulted your rabbi. If so, could you tell me if for Barragan, a Catholic, you consulted with a Catholic priest? Not that I ask because of the architect’s faith, but rather to know if you considered the effect that a piece of this type might have in Mexico, a country that continues to be primarily Catholic, and, in addition, conservative. Were you aware that –in keeping with the local context− this action would unleash sensationalism? Did you think of a strategy that would take into account such effects, or were you attempting to kick off a series of debates through this? Considering the local context, what I believe is that sensationalism −in fact, brewing for several months already− will spur the public to look at an object of art conceptualized as a fetish.

Public institutions

You have enjoyed widespread support from some FAT members (who have used this institution in a discretionary manner) for the development and production of your project. Myriam Vachez, Secretary of Culture for the state of Jalisco, supported your project and attended the day that Barragan’s ashes were exhumed. You said in the catalogue for The Proposal that you had a close relationship with her. You have also exhibited individually at two public museums in Mexico in under three years. I have thought hard, but I can’t come up with any other local or international artist with a profile and career similar to yours who has enjoyed this type of institutional support. You are very privileged. And I am certainly not the only one who thinks so. What is your take on this phenomenon? What do you think that some of the people from institutions or foundations that have backed you are related through family matters or other kinds of close relationships?

Last year, on September 1st, a note and a video on your work were uploaded to the Artforum portal. At that time the controversy surrounding your work had reached heated levels already, and had ceased to be the exclusive domain of “specialists”. Many were asking how that came to pass (regarding the diamond), and questioning the various entities that seemed to have been involved with the project, though information on how was unclear. And then the video went on to speak of a series of personal relationships that enabled your initiative to come to fruition. This unleashed a crisis at the FAT, among other consequences. The discretionary support that you received, at least in this case, says a lot about Mexico and how far-fetched and seemingly impossible things can be obtained through a network of efficient and expeditious support. This was your case: attainment through knowing the right people. I know, of course, that no actual crime has been committed; but we are facing clear evidence of cronyism. Hard, indeed, to call this a crime and I don’t think anyone has ever gone to jail over it. In fact, it falls within the borderline realm of “if it ain’t forbidden it’s permitted”. But Jill, in a country where corruption runs rampant on an everyday basis, to use cronyism —especially in legal matters or those of public order— not only is not cool, it also expands the social and democratic gap in which the country languishes. What this practice reveals is the rise and enjoyment of a set of privileges, unbeknownst to the majority of Mexicans (98 or 99% or more).

As a result of this note, I used a hashtag on my personal Facebook account to refer to this specific situation in your project. It was not a personal attack, I was referring to the entire situation; if you took it personally, it behooves me to apologize publicly, and I say this in all honesty. Nevertheless, I maintain that the network built on privilege that allowed you to carry out this project is one of the ethical dilemmas at stake in your work – at least as seen from the Mexican standpoint, for Mexico is the place and context for the production of your work. Many Mexicans would love for a bureaucrat to pay attention to them if only for a moment; your petition was heeded by a Congress and a Municipality through the support and approval of the Department of Culture of the state of Jalisco in less than a month. I’m not sure, but I feel that this bespeaks sharp, existing processes of inequality in the country which you used to carry out your artistic project. As I said in my interview, I believe there is something very instrumental in your work.

Let me underscore that my criticism is not centered on the results of your work —it is not about your art pieces that are being exhibited in museums and galleries— this is about the production process and how things were attained and understood from the local context and perspective. It doesn’t matter to me if this aspect of your work is not perceivable in San Francisco or Basel; here it is a topic and matter that must be mentioned. I am interested in certain notions concerning materialism, taking into account their various implications. For this reason, I am inclined to believe that an object, either an artwork or a commodity, is indivisible from its production process. If one is legitimized, so is the other.

Allow me to underscore that the hashtag, the interview and everything I have said in regard to your project has been from a personal standpoint. Although I personally know the Fehlbaum-Zanco couple, I am not on the payroll of an “evil” foreign corporation. As a critic, I have not had an institution to shield me every time I want to make a decision or say something. From this standpoint of relative independence, I have carried out a critical review of your work; this process has not seen smooth sailing, as you know. Although I am part of the group that has “complained” about your project, my decisions are my own, and I act alone. In the same manner, allow me to clarify that I have never suggested that your work should be censored (I would never do such a thing), nor have I expressed my personal opinion or judgment about the most controversial piece in your project. In fact, as I also mentioned in the interview published here, I think that your work has been very effective in highlighting the structures of power, one of the intentions of your production, but at a local level. This result is part of and contributes to the low perception that there is regarding the legitimacy of present institutions in this country.

While you and your project set out to underscore the structure of power embedded in the Barragan Foundation of Switzerland —a valid exercise, indeed— the production process in Mexico revealed another structure of power. This has been a good move for your artistic project. You managed to give evidence of the structures of power that exist everywhere and the way in which they can be utilized and instrumentalized. It also stands clear that we must be on the alert and distrust a vision of a Manichean world, divided into the good and the bad. We know that reality is more complex than that.

I do hope that you don’t take this letter lightly, like when I speak of the will and when I point out critical aspects of your project and/or its narrative. Honestly, I don’t believe that to err is the problem; the problem is not accepting mistakes. We can all feel confused about information contained in a document. I hope that you will answer my letter, or, if you return to Mexico in the coming six months, we can have that conversation we were unable to have on this occasion. I find it very important to hear about your take on the points I have brought up. I am not seeking a debate, nor does the meeting have to be public. I just want to converse. I could explain to you since when, how and why I began to research aspects related to your project, the primary sources and documents I have consulted, the archive that I have compiled with documents that date back to the nineties, and some other vicissitudes that have come up during this process. I can either talk to you or write to you about all this. However, I am aware that perhaps our encounter may never transpire. True, a letter always reaches its recipient, though the awaited answer is not guaranteed.


Daniel Garza-Usabiaga

P.S. Last week I read in a newspaper [11] that your exchange proposal will be open for the next three years, and in case it is not accepted, you would then decide what to do with the ring. Three years? Jill, please, don’t do this… What is the purpose? You already received an answer (negative) from Switzerland; you carried out your project; your intentions have been understood; you had your global exhibition tour and now your debates. The time has come to move on to other matters.


[1] Interview with Artforum, available here.
[2] I’d rather not mention the name to avoid another character to join the drama surrounding Luis Barragán. This confidentiality sense must be, in my opinion, proper of archival research.
[3] Una derrota de Álvaro Siza vs. los fundamentalistas, by Juan Palomar, El Informador, available here.
[4] Luis Barragán: como un dibujo de Rembrandt…, by Juan Palomar, El Informador, available here.
[5] Article available here.
[6] Instituciones, omisas en el caso Barragán, El Universal, available here.
[7] La pelea por Barragán, a exposición en el MAZ, El Informador, available here.
[8] Report available here.
[9] Interview available here.
[10] Ibídem
[11] Diamante creado con cenizas de Barragán es obra de arte: Medina, La Jornada, available here.



Daniel Garza-Usabiaga studied a Master and a PhD in Art History at Essex University, England. He also followed postdoctoral studies at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM, Mexico. He worked as a curator at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, and also as chief curator at the Museo Universitario del Chopo. He’s currently in charge of the Artistic Direction of Zona Maco and is an independent curator.