Jill Magid is attracted to situations from which she is excluded, whether they are spaces, systems or ideas; she looks for a point of entry and invents a means and a methodology for access, participation, revelation, or exchange.

Seeking out intimate sources within the public domain, Magid began working with closed-circuit video cameras, interposing her own body within that of the social and institutional. She bought her first lipstick-camera to explore the surface of her body in public space, by intervening herself as ‘Head Security Ornamentation Professional’, transforming security camera’s into architectural ornaments, and persuading the police to hire her to decorate their outdoor security cameras with fake jewels (Rhinestoning Headquarters, 2002). This marked a shift in Magid’s practice from focusing on her own body to focusing on the body of institutions and their relative systems of authority.

Magid combines these lines of investigation in the work made for both FACT (Retrieval Room, 2004) and Tate (Evidence Locker, 2004) in International 04. The work represented within these two different contexts was the result of a relationship built with Citywatch (Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council), whose function is city-wide CCTV surveillance – the largest system of its kind in England.

There were 242 CCTV cameras in Liverpool at the time, monitored by city-watch from and unmarked control room located in the city centre. The CCTV footage, taken by the police and obtained from all 242 cameras, is kept for 31 days, after which it is erased (unless pulled out as evidence). The footage retained is held for seven years in evidence lockers – a file that usually contains selected ‘suspect’ video-recorded incidents occurring in public space.

Magid developed a relationship with the Citywatch police (whom she refers to as ‘the observer’) during her 31-day stay in Liverpool – one complete cycle of memory – in order for them to create her very own evidence locker. She subverted the CCTV Process through the staging of footage that would be submitted to the evidence locker: wearing a bright red trench coat and knee-high boots. ensuring she was easily identifiable throughout the city, she would call the police on duty with details of where she was going to be and ask them to film her in particular poses and places, or even guide her though the city with her eyes closed.

Retrieval Room, 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Fact

Evidence Locker, 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Tate



Mondriaan Foundation
Royal Netherlands Embassy