“We were all surrounded by pills,” remarked artist AA Bronson on the impetus for Magi© Bullet when it was first installed, in 1992, at the height of the aids crisis. “The pill became a sculptural form we turned into our art.” Along with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, Bronson was a member of the Canadian collective General Idea. They were active from 1967 until 1994, when Partz and Zontal passed away from AIDS-related illnesses.
Filling the gallery with pill-shaped mylar balloons, Magi© Bullet in part functions as a metaphor for seeking a temporary remedy for an illness—physical or social—rather than examining its root causes. As the balloons’ helium levels decrease, they fall; you are invited to take a deflated balloon home with you. The installation thus gradually disappears over time, evoking the lives needlessly lost to aids because of state abandonment—and prompting comparison to the current global pandemic and the harm it’s wrought on our most vulnerable communities.
Gallery label from 2020