Antonio Vega Macotela

Antonio Vega Macotela, Study of Exhaustion, no. 1: The Equivalence of Silver (2012), coca ashes and silver, approx. 3 × 4 × 6 cm, courtesy Amparo Museum Collection, Puebla, Mexico

Antonio Vega Macotela, The Mill of Blood, 2017, steel, wood, and glass, installation view, Westpavillon (Orangerie), Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Liz Eve

I can see in his face that he is totally beat. He walked around in his studio all night long to collect his own sweat, which he wants to store in bottles for his Studies of Exhaustion. From what I can see on my computer screen, his studio at the Rijksakademie is completely empty. [Mexico City–Amsterdam, September 2012]

Exchanges 87, 89 and 91–97 (2008), ink on paper, each one 28 × 26.6 cm
“El Picos” asked the artist to look for the location of his mother-in-law’s house to find out where his children were staying. For each attempt the artist made to find the
place, “El Picos” would walk around his cell recording each step.
[From the series “Time Divisa”]

Broken arm. Apparently, his shoulder is protruding; they can’t fix it. [Mexico City, 2009–11]

I know that he had to go to Bolivia, to the Potosí mines, some time between September and December 2012. A few months later, he sent me some notes from a guide on how to make machinery:

*Mill: machine made of wood to laminate the silver and gold bars or make them thinner in order to make coins. Made from a wheel, lamps, and the necessary mechanisms to transmit the movement made by power—water, wind, vapor, or any other mechanical agent.
Of Blood: the movement made by animal or human power that makes the mill or machine move.
Footnote: Prologue to Molinos de Sangre: Casa Real de Moneda Circular (Potosí, 1998).

I think Vega Macotela was tired because everybody identified him as the artist of the time exchanges done with inmates of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, which he carried out for his “Time Divisa” project. “They are eating up all my time, and I am exhausted.” [Time and space unspecified]

On Wednesday, September 11, 2013, Doyle, Kerry A., wrote:

Hi Antonio,
What type of bones are you using for the mill? Human? Animal? What kind of animal? Are they an integral part of the work? How easy would it be to ship the silver pieces without the bones and replacing the bones when you arrive in El Paso? I don’t think they’ll get through customs.
Xo kd

“The only thing that we ask is that you stay with us in the mine the full workday. You can pick up our coca boleos and do whatever you want with them.” [Potosí, Bolivia, sometime at the end of 2012]

The silversmiths have been working for months on a scale replica of the Molino de Sangre in Potosí. It has a 25 cm diameter. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t move. [Puebla, Mexico, March–December 2012]

Vega Macotela, born in Mexico City in 1980, arrives late to the grant meeting. He’s wearing a mask over his mouth because he’s worried about catching H1N1. [Mexico City, March 2009]

From: José Antonio Vega Macotela
Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2013, 2:51 PM

Hi all, The bones are from cows, and the four horses of the Molino de Sangre/The Mill of Blood carrousel are made from these bones. The horses are extremely important. I’m looking into ways of detaching them and bringing them separately and then to assemble them quickly in the Rubin Center. I have to find some time to do it.

Without any particular reason we stop writing to each other for a while. Two years later, he writes to tell me about documenta. They’re going to reproduce The Mill of Blood in a 1:1 version. “The coins are pocket monuments,” he adds. [Mexico City, September 2016]

—Ruth Estévez

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook