Compraventa (Trading) | Tianguis de chácharas (flea market) Portales, Col. Portales, Mexico City | May 22nd, 2010

“Trading”, the piece performed with the Brazilian artist Rosangela Renno emerged from considerations about objects: What gives them value? In the case of old objects or antiques, specifically it is about the background of the object itself, and they are not valued based on the same parameters as the new objects. Some of these things are not even useful, they are reduced to decoration or collection (in the best of cases), but most of the times they are considered “trinkets”. Starting from the affirmation that its own background is what gives value to an ancient object we decided to sell stories. We walked through the flea markets where this kind of objects can be found (Martin Carrera, Santa Cruz, San Felipe, Portales, Lagunilla, among others) in search of old things that had a story to tell. Merchants had to sell their goods using their stories; if they convinced us, we bought the goods. Once we had a lot of them, they were put in tailor made boxes of different sizes; from each it hung a  tag with the story of the contained object written on it ( it never actually revealed what it was), the name of the flea market it was got and the name of the person who had sold it to us. Once we did this, we set a stand in the flea market of Portales, where we offered the boxes to the visitors, in a way the stories could be read. And so  many curious people got closer and read the tags, one by one or only a couple of them, depending on how much the box weighed when they carried it with their hands or depending on how it sounded if they shook it a little. Some others would simply want to know what was inside without even reading the tags. But the objects could not be seen if they didn’t buy their story. The price was set by the customer: if they liked the story, they would offer what they considered it was its worth ( or sometimes a few pesos if that was the only money they had).

This could be read on one of the tags:

NAME OF THE FLEA MARKET: Tuesday market in Coahtepec Barrio Alto. “Stolen from the train station, forced, abandoned and thrown away for years, until it ended up in a stray dogs’ shelter where it was kept for years until the manager of the place passed away. From there they took it and put it for sale”.

NAME OF THE SELLER: Francisco Javier Catalán Esquivel.

(The kept object was an old leather suitcase)

Similar to this we sold about forty stories.