Artist
Antonio Vega Macotela
See images of Work
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Time Currency 148
Cigarrete butts
8.27 x 11.02 inches
2008

Time Divisa is a project that explores the possibility of replacing money with a time-sharing system based on the exchange specific time periods where differ- ent tasks are done. It consists of 365 individual exchanges with inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico City. On a specific, mutually agreed upon day and time, tasks are undertaken simultaneously. Each party performs a task requested by the other. The documentation of each task is the currency. Macotela documents the tasks he undertakes for each prisoner as audio or video recordings, while the inmates draw and/or produce certain objects. The time exchanges are classified according to the specific tasks the artist asks the inmates to perform. He considers the outcomes of each time exchange as indi- vidual artworks. While he presents the objects produced by the inmates as his because they are the result of their time exchanges, he chooses not to present documentation of the tasks he performs for them because they represent the time that belongs to them.

In exchange for the artist witnessing his son's first steps, "El super-ratón" collected and ordered all of the cigarette butts that he found in his cell.

Time Currency 260-267
Wax and cloth
22.05 x 16.93 inches
2009

Time Divisa is a project that explores the possibility of replacing money with a time-sharing system based on the exchange specific time periods where differ- ent tasks are done. It consists of 365 individual exchanges with inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico City. On a specific, mutually agreed upon day and time, tasks are undertaken simultaneously. Each party performs a task requested by the other. The documentation of each task is the currency. Macotela documents the tasks he undertakes for each prisoner as audio or video recordings, while the inmates draw and/or produce certain objects. The time exchanges are classified according to the specific tasks the artist asks the inmates to perform. He considers the outcomes of each time exchange as indi- vidual artworks. While he presents the objects produced by the inmates as his because they are the result of their time exchanges, he chooses not to present documentation of the tasks he performs for them because they represent the time that belongs to them.

In exchange for the artist sitting on a particular swing overlooking
crosswalk for a blonde woman to appear at 1 pm each Tuesday, "El guero" had to wait in a hallway for the prisoners who were about to be released in order to steal a piece of cloth from each one and encapsulate them in wax.

Time Currency 349, 350, 351
Aromatic soaps
4.72 x 1.97 x .59 inches
2010

Time Divisa is a project that explores the possibility of replacing money with a time-sharing system based on the exchange specific time periods where differ- ent tasks are done. It consists of 365 individual exchanges with inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico City. On a specific, mutually agreed upon day and time, tasks are undertaken simultaneously. Each party performs a task requested by the other. The documentation of each task is the currency. Macotela documents the tasks he undertakes for each prisoner as audio or video recordings, while the inmates draw and/or produce certain objects. The time exchanges are classified according to the specific tasks the artist asks the inmates to perform. He considers the outcomes of each time exchange as indi- vidual artworks. While he presents the objects produced by the inmates as his because they are the result of their time exchanges, he chooses not to present documentation of the tasks he performs for them because they represent the time that belongs to them.

In exchange for attempting to fix "El gochi's" paralyzed face, he sculpted three aromatic soaps with three prison slang phrases.

Time Currency 63
Pen on paper
11.02 x 16.93 inches
2006

Time Divisa is a project that explores the possibility of replacing money with a time-sharing system based on the exchange specific time periods where differ- ent tasks are done. It consists of 365 individual exchanges with inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico City. On a specific, mutually agreed upon day and time, tasks are undertaken simultaneously. Each party performs a task requested by the other. The documentation of each task is the currency. Macotela documents the tasks he undertakes for each prisoner as audio or video recordings, while the inmates draw and/or produce certain objects. The time exchanges are classified according to the specific tasks the artist asks the inmates to perform. He considers the outcomes of each time exchange as indi- vidual artworks. While he presents the objects produced by the inmates as his because they are the result of their time exchanges, he chooses not to present documentation of the tasks he performs for them because they represent the time that belongs to them.

The artist shook hands with each one of “El brothers'” neighbors and relatives in his neighborhood. In exchange, "El brother" recounted a televised basketball match he watched in writing, in the shape of a concrete poem.

Dog/God
23 Newspapers
22.83 x 12.6 inches each one
2011

In this series, a blurry sequence of a wolf closing its snout was published in the national newspaper El Sol de Mexico. The last publication of the sequence coincided -by chance- with the suspicious death of the Mexican minister of the interior.

Habemus gasolina
Containers for fruit water, tequila destiller, stools, ice cream buckets, metal tubes
188.98 x 149.61 x 125.98 inches
2008

Raw oil is the value around which all other currencies fluctuate worldwide. Many “third world” countries produce and export this commodity at a minimum value to so-called developed countries, which enhance the latter with exorbitant profits. The goal of Habemus Gasolina was to produce a functioning refinery based on a DIY concept using technology that can be found on any street corner in Mexico City, as means to prove an opportunity and question the falacy of technology that prevents common citizens in Mexico from actively making use of their natural resources.

Murmurs
7 Newspapers
22.83 x 12.6 inches each one
2011

Murmurs is a project that utilizes a communication code that the artist learned from an imprisoned Mexican drug trafficker. The code is an anamorphic writing system that allows messages to be read only from specific vantage points. Using the code, Macotela inserted a series of advertisements in El Sol de Mexico, a national Mexican newspaper, and each ad contained a different phrase. The installation consists of the actual newspapers pinned to the gallery walls. To discern the phrases, viewers will have to position themselves on their knees with their chests and chins pressed against the wall while looking up. Only in this position of prayer, or imminent execution, can a viewer decode the phrase.

Study of Exhaustion: Study No. 2, The Transmutation of Ashes
120 black clay boots
9.84 x 9.84 x 4.72 inches each
2013

Foreword to the studies of exhaustion: The Invisible Encyclopedia. Is a series of printings created from the sweat of different persons, and is part of the artist's approach to the work environment from what is invisible, what does not manifest itself in a tangible way. Part of the production process, aside from collecting sweat, was to use it as ink for an inkjet printer. This compendium of prints provides context to sweat in connection to work, and the conceptual and symbolic possibilities that it can have inside the work-culture. Furthermore, the mentioned fluid contains part the genetic information of each individual. The role of the pieces' series is also to signify this information (symbolically as work and biologically as DNA) and to transform it as an archive, a legacy. Even though sweat disappears from view when it evaporates, it can be seen with an ultraviolet light. This is why lightning devices play a very important part in making the prints visible. This set of pieces was created with the sweat of three Cubans that lived through the so-called Special Period crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the economic blockade from the U.S. They are part of a larger project in course of production named "La Enciclopedia Invisible" (The Invisible Encyclopedia) where the artist explores the relationship of the individual with everyday objects at a utilitarian and emotional level.

The Transmutation of Ashes is the result of collecting personal objects of individuals who were enrolled in the army, and then burned and transformed, with their ashes, in black clay. This action makes reference to the rites of hierarchy at work systems. With the black clay obtained from the ashes, 60 pairs of boots (the number of members conforming a military squad) were cast following the tradition of Oaxacan pottery, and were then intervened individually by the soldiers and their families. The duplicate of each boot, and the use of ashes coming from personal objects represent the end of a life cycle to begin a new one, but at the service of the State.

Study of Exhaustion: Study No. 3, The Flesh
Assembly of aluminum, bone, bronze and steel.
11.22 x 9.25 x 9.25 inches
2013

Foreword to the studies of exhaustion: The Invisible Encyclopedia. Is a series of printings created from the sweat of different persons, and is part of the artist's approach to the work environment from what is invisible, what does not manifest itself in a tangible way. Part of the production process, aside from collecting sweat, was to use it as ink for an inkjet printer. This compendium of prints provides context to sweat in connection to work, and the conceptual and symbolic possibilities that it can have inside the work-culture. Furthermore, the mentioned fluid contains part the genetic information of each individual. The role of the pieces' series is also to signify this information (symbolically as work and biologically as DNA) and to transform it as an archive, a legacy. Even though sweat disappears from view when it evaporates, it can be seen with an ultraviolet light. This is why lightning devices play a very important part in making the prints visible. This set of pieces was created with the sweat of three Cubans that lived through the so-called Special Period crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the economic blockade from the U.S. They are part of a larger project in course of production named "La Enciclopedia Invisible" (The Invisible Encyclopedia) where the artist explores the relationship of the individual with everyday objects at a utilitarian and emotional level.

The Flesh rebuilds a blood mill. These devices, commonly used in the production of silver coins in the time of the Spanish Conquest, were used in places where the only energy resource was physical work from a living being, where the body and its movement served as fuel. There were only three of those mills, and they were located in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Vega Macotela, after researching the drawings and sketches archive of the one in Bolivia, rebuilt a replica at a 1:55 scale, making it a sort of relic, like the ones in the Catholic tradition used as repositories of human remains.

Study of Exhaustion: Study No. 4, Speculation
Marble and plaster powder, 3D printing
6.6 x 5.3 x 5.9 inches
2014

Foreword to the studies of exhaustion: The Invisible Encyclopedia. Is a series of printings created from the sweat of different persons, and is part of the artist's approach to the work environment from what is invisible, what does not manifest itself in a tangible way. Part of the production process, aside from collecting sweat, was to use it as ink for an inkjet printer. This compendium of prints provides context to sweat in connection to work, and the conceptual and symbolic possibilities that it can have inside the work-culture. Furthermore, the mentioned fluid contains part the genetic information of each individual. The role of the pieces' series is also to signify this information (symbolically as work and biologically as DNA) and to transform it as an archive, a legacy. Even though sweat disappears from view when it evaporates, it can be seen with an ultraviolet light. This is why lightning devices play a very important part in making the prints visible. This set of pieces was created with the sweat of three Cubans that lived through the so-called Special Period crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the economic blockade from the U.S. They are part of a larger project in course of production named "La Enciclopedia Invisible" (The Invisible Encyclopedia) where the artist explores the relationship of the individual with everyday objects at a utilitarian and emotional level.

Speculation markets and it’s functioning are ultimately moved by fears, happiness and sadness. However it is true that algorithms, computers, and basically technology are key tools today to the functioning of our market system, the final decision making that will make it function always rests one person, one human, driven by his emotions. Personal descriptions from things, moments and feelings from different persons were used to modify the sketch or render of a sculpture entitled “Charging bull” representing the iconic image of Wall Street and the financial speculation. Groups of multiple sculptures were created combining the narrative language as a modifying, or speculative sculpture of the form.

The chisel and the sinkhole
13 pencil drawings on perforated cotton paper
32 x 29 inches
2016 - 2017

The chisel and the sinkhole is a sound sculpture made from the common mechanism between European music boxes and mining machinery of the Colonial era in Latin America. The melody it plays is a version of "Aunque mi amo me mate, a esa mina no voy", one of the first protest songs of Latin American black slaves, which was sung in Colombia at the end of XVIII C. during a rebellion of miners. The miners were armed with chisels and hammers, and the musical phrasing of the song is the same as that of funeral marches.
In the same decade, Antoine Fabre - Swiss watchmaker -, invented the music box. Mechanically, the work consists of a rotating cylinder with chisels that, while in motion, push and release already used and worn out hammers, delicately reproducing the notes of the melody. These tools were collected and investigated by José Antonio Vega Silva - the artist's father -, who starting from the concept of "Potentia" by Spinoza, says that tools are not adequately worn out, but sculpted throughout their use until they reach their maximum poetic and formal state. In this sense, the nature of the work is processual and will not truly be complete until the tools no longer fulfill a function - exist only as sculptures and trace - and the song is silent.

The chisel and the sinkhole
Detail
Wood and metal
59.06 x 86.61 x 102.36 inches
2017

The chisel and the sinkhole is a sound sculpture made from the common mechanism between European music boxes and mining machinery of the Colonial era in Latin America. The melody it plays is a version of "Aunque mi amo me mate, a esa mina no voy", one of the first protest songs of Latin American black slaves, which was sung in Colombia at the end of XVIII C. during a rebellion of miners. The miners were armed with chisels and hammers, and the musical phrasing of the song is the same as that of funeral marches.
In the same decade, Antoine Fabre - Swiss watchmaker -, invented the music box. Mechanically, the work consists of a rotating cylinder with chisels that, while in motion, push and release already used and worn out hammers, delicately reproducing the notes of the melody. These tools were collected and investigated by José Antonio Vega Silva - the artist's father -, who starting from the concept of "Potentia" by Spinoza, says that tools are not adequately worn out, but sculpted throughout their use until they reach their maximum poetic and formal state. In this sense, the nature of the work is processual and will not truly be complete until the tools no longer fulfill a function - exist only as sculptures and trace - and the song is silent.

Bio

Mexico City, Mexico, 1980.
Lives and works in Mexico City and Amsterdam.

Antonio Macotela’s work is multidisciplinary, site-specific and often engages particular communities. It explores notions of labor, value and exchange, specifically with regards to currency as a system through which social relations are established and negotiated. Macotela addresses alienation in economic systems and its social structures. He uses art as a tool for shifting and resignifying the meaning of everyday life as well as re-contextualizing it. His work can be understood both as a concrete engagement or form of activism, where his pieces come to have a real impact on people’s lives as well as at a metaphorical level, in which the metaphor emerges as the result of an action that affects a community.

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Exhibitions
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