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Antonio Vega Macotela

Time Exchange (2006–2009)

Time Exchange is a project that explores the possibility of replacing onsists of 365 individual exchanges with inmates at the Santa Martha Acatila prison in Mexico City. On a specific day and time, mutually agreed upon, the tasks are undertaken simultaneously. Each party does the task demanded by the other. The documentation of each task is the currency.

I document the tasks that I perform for prisoners in audio or video, while the inmates draw and/or create certain objects. The time exchanges are classified according to what I ask the inmates to do. I consider the outcome of each exchange as an individual artwork. I present these works as mine, since they are the outcome of our time exchange, and I choose not to present what I do for them because those documentations represent the time that belongs to them. 

The prison, in my view, is a model of the economic and social behavior of the society to which it belongs. This model, however, is not a proportional scale model. In prison only certain proportions of the society remain the same while others resemble caricatures in that they have exaggerated proportions like images seen through the concave and convex mirrors. 

I am interested in seeing art as a tool that may change the meaning of everyday life as well as re-contextualize it. My pieces work at two levels. The first is concrete in that they have a real impact in people’s lives. This way they are almost a form of activism. The second metaphorical level happens when art audiences read my interventions as metaphors themselves. I have tried to make Time Exchange work in these two levels, by working directly with the prisoners trying to make each Time Exchange meaningful enough for them, and then translating this relationship system to an exhibition space to be read by the spectator.

Biography Born 1980 in Mexico, lives and works in the Netherlands and Mexico. Antonio Vega Macotela graduated from National School of Fine Arts ENAP-UNAM. He was the co-editor of the publication Multiple Media 2 in 2008. His works have been exhibited in such places as Museo de Arte Moderno, Museo Carrillo Gil, the Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, and the 29th San Paolo Biennial, Brazil, 2009.

Photo: Hendrik Zeitler