This woman is highly educated and perhaps a little mad. Hailing from Cornell and MIT she pulled off quite the stunt on a project commissioned by the SFAI. I read through the details on the New Yorker. I was shocked at the violations of privacy committed just so that questions of how one might recognize, respect and pay honor to those who have passed ( especially those whose works made such impact ) would come up for conversation over a dinner table. Is life just so absurd that these projects can be done? The sentiments I have about the whole thing vaguely bring to mind the absurdity found in the satire Candide by Voltaire.

I guess that’s where her genius lies though, in testing the limits and boundaries of what we think we know, by removing herself from everyday expectations. It is an unfortunate but perhaps unintended strategic marketing to make the entire story unfold as something of a sad tragic soap opera, so of course when I found out that the exhibit would be coming to the San Francisco Art Institute , I found a reason to visit as soon as I could. Once there, I found documents, letters, videos, an ornate colorful composition on the floor and of course, the ring, made from the remains of Luis Barragan. While his work might be locked behind a building in Europe, it is really really unfortunate that his physical remains and the story of his memory has been woven to become this. Is getting turned into a diamond an insult or a compliment?

Though really, if I was Luis Barragan, what would have been my choice? Would I have decided to become a diamond ring, would I have mind if someone purchased my entire estate of works, limiting access to it after I had passed? Why didn’t he and his lawyers do a better job on managing his legacy, and for that fact, his physical remains? I guess that just goes to show everyone that life will take many unexpected turns. Even after death.

The Offering at the Walter McBean Gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute

Diamond made from the ashes of Luis Barragan

Saliem Chiu.