Change Change
Site specific installation / 2002/2003 / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bahía Blanca, 2005 / Galería Isidro Miranda, Buenos Aires, Agentina, 2009 / www.redgalerí, 2009

Collections of Argentine coins and bills which reflect the ups and downs of the country's economy are being exposed in the Numismatic Museum of the Argentine Central Bank; next to these collections there is the hall for itinerant exhibitions. From the devaluation of the Argentine Peso on, the idea of making a site-specific contemporary art show has been negotiated for more than 8 months. The show project consists of compositions made out of national and international coins and bills, leather and other materials which would be exhibited in the hall's glass showcases. The invitations have been already printed and the catalogue is at the printer's when the President of the Argentine Central Bank censures the show considering it as "inadequate for the context". The impossibility to show the material in the real world leads to the making of a flash animation in order to open the show in a virtual manner in, a virtual gallery.

A comment on the show "change change"

By crítico ladrón / translation by Uschi Gröppel

Martín Bonadeo creates his works usually by setting out from the space where they are going to be exhibited. The specific aspects of the place are decisive factors of his working system. At first sight, the works which make up this show seemed strange to me as they did not seem to arise from the space where they should have been exhibited. Although it was planned to show them in the Numismatic Museum of the Argentine Central Bank, I did not feel that the discussions outlined by the works would have arisen from the space's characteristics. Martín looked for this space in order to show a previously made work, it was simply an ideal frame. Then I 165 understood that I had been observing from a point of view which turned out to be too close: Argentina as a socioeconomic space was the place from where the works arose.

Cambio, cambio –Change, change– is a group of works specific for the country and the moment, therefore the fact if they could be exhibited in the Numismatic Museum or not, is more or less indifferent to me. The internet as a medium can be interpreted as a space of collective information. This is appropriate, because many of the works carry the generalized worries about the evolution of the dollar exchange rate to an absurd limit (someone could argue that internet is limiting the visibility to a certain socioeconomic class, depriving the pretension regarding the collectivity of information contained in it, but I feel that this is a problem endemic to art.) Many of the works have a tautological mechanism. Recently, a female artist who I deeply admire, said to me: “In my opinion tautologies turn out to be extremely boring.” So why is it that these works do not seem to bore to me? Tautologies do not add information, its conclusions do not have any relevancy; but by using tautologies in relation to the exchange rate, it becomes a critical reflection about common places with respect to the notions of “value” normally associated with currency. If all currencies are made out of the same copper used for electrical cables, and the different bills are basically made out of the same paper, then, where can value be found in an economic system? And what happens when we aspire to have our papers equalling the US green ones? A comment referring to this question appears in the work Peso convertible – Convertible Peso –: Two lines of one hundred Argentine and North American 1 Cent coins form the respective positive and negative signal which connect a loudspeaker to a CD player. Out of the loudspeaker sounds the Yankee hymn, possibly suggesting that our aspirations have been dominated and that they transform us more or less in second class citizenship within the Great American Empire (this sounds a bit pamphlet-like…).

Nevertheless, the most stimulating reflection is the one about time and history. Old bills which have been saved from destruction, evolution of exchange rates, insinuations with respect to the cyclic process of our currency's history… The title of the show acquires here a new meaning, makings us wonder what remains constant within such variability, and what are the changes that we want and need as a nation.

Symbols, paper, value and change

Catalog‘s text

“In this era of conventional, abstract money, without any form of representation that maintains contact with gold, the chances to tell the difference are fewer and fewer.” Rosalind E. Krauss

“When I was a small child, my mom gave me a 1-million-bill in order to buy something at the kiosk. Besides the candy the kiosksalesman gave me a huge pile of change of green and brown bills. I was happy, I felt that what I had received, was much more than what I had handed.”

The choice of the Numismatic Museum for this show is no coincidence. Beyond my work in itself, I felt the necessity to 167 exhibit the content of the glass showcases of this permanent collection; to bring nearer the history of the symbolic material which had a major influence in the last century, material which now is no more than dead paper and metal buried in showcases, whose value does not go beyond being fetishistic, just like art. As one can see, it is not the first time that the provinces issue bonds in an irresponsible manner and that our currency – as an element of the country's identity – was never equal to the US Dollar and will never be. They are different symbols representing different values.

The symbolic burden of bills is so strong that the majority of the people does not realize that it is only a question of pieces of printed paper. This symbolic material, which is in its operating ways similar to the mechanisms of art, has a violent effect on people's mood. The special paper printed with expensive ink is no longer a simple mediator between people's work, goods and services, but it has become the value that rules our society. Something is wrong. The word value is by definition something that should remain stable for a long time and represents something crystallized. Nevertheless, on the stock market (the Spanish word for stock market is Mercado de valores which literally means value market) money constantly fluctuates.

Debt, payments, dollarization, bonds etc. are words that came in to occupy a privileged place in the Argentine vocabulary. While walking through the streets one can hear a common need: Cambio, cambio – Change, change –, there is something about all this that needs to be modified. Many desire the same thing once again: hyperinflation, financial speculation, indexations, but maybe the transformation is so big that we are not capable of imagining what is coming next.

Art is one of the motors of change, it exists simply because of its possibility of resignification. While many people are trying to stabilize, art is trying to break through.

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