Tender is a multimedia body of work exploring the vulnerable relationship between the economy and human life. It has taken on multiple forms—as a public artwork, a series of sculptures, and a film—all centering on the circulation of pennies, but unfolding with different durations and degrees of visibility.
The first iteration of Tender took place in 2020 with a monumental, nearly invisible, public artwork commissioned by Creative Time. During the height of the pandemic, Jill Magid interceded in the U.S. economy with 120,000 newly-minted 2020 pennies edge-engraved with the appropriated phrase, “THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE,” distributed via cash-in-transit carriers to bodegas throughout the five boroughs of New York. The text evokes both the human body and the body politic – and underscores their interconnection during the coronavirus pandemic. The engraving intervenes between the official iconography of the coins' faces: the heads showing the bust of President Abraham Lincoln; the tails representing Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single country. The number of Tender pennies is equal to the $1200 stimulus checks that were issued to individuals by the U.S. Treasury as part of the CARES Act. The dissemination of the coins echoes the spread of viral pathogens such as COVID-19.
The public artwork was followed by a body of work collectively called Tender Balance that follows the movement of pennies and some of their afterlives while thinking about absence, loss, and traces left behind.
Tender: Balance – an exhibition at The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago.
FOCUS: Jill Magid – an exhibition at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Tender Presence – a live installation of film and sound presented by Creative Time at Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg
Tender - a book published by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, with Creative Time.