The Status of the Shooter
Press Release: Yvon Lambert is pleased to announce The Status of the Shooter, the third solo exhibition of the American artist Jill Magid. The exhibition will take place at the Yvon Lambert Gallery from Thursday the 21th of June until the 28th of July 2012.
The Status of the Shooter is the search for a body amid the moral panic and institutional response to a school shooting. Late in 2010, Colton Tooley, a math student at the University of Texas at Austin, wearing a ski mask and armed with an AK-47, walked through campus firing shots into the air and ground. Seemingly without intention to hurt anyone but himself, Cooleyʼs route was completed when he committed suicide in the Comparative Literature and Poetry section on the sixth floor of The Perry-Castañeda Library.
Magid, who had coincidentally been visiting Austin at this time researching another highly publicized shooting, made an Open Records Request to the UT Police Department asking for any information on Tooleyʼs suicide. In return, she received a package containing the ʻdash-camʼ surveillance footage recorded by each of the five police officers called to the scene of the crime, and the recordings of all of the 911 calls related to the incident. Hoping to gain insight into Tooleyʼs actions, Magid returns to the fictional drama, Geotheʼs Faust, whose themes have informed her recent body of work. Early in the play, Faust despairs that he has failed to understand nature and the universe despite many years of study. Alone in his library, he prepares to take poison to end what he sees as an unfulfilled life. Peeling of church bells and a choir of angels stop him. For Tooley, apparently no such angels sang.
In The Status of the Shooter, Magid maps out the sequence of events as a life is violently torn from the world and replaced by panicked attempts to regain social order. In the installation, which includes a five-channel video piece, audio works, and sculptural elements, she has synchronized and transcribed video and audio footage to reframe the narrative as if written for the public stage.
The Status of the Shooter is part of a larger exploration in Magidʼs work dealing with potency, impact, and charge. Through the search of the absent body, Magid is searching for meaning—both in the world and in her work, seeking herself in the story of another. At the heart of this inquiry (also present in her previous works L.O.V.E, The Spy Project, A Reasonable Man in a Box) Magid addresses the desire to locate the presence of an individual body within larger bodies of public, private and state power.