Mill of Blood.
This project expands Antonio Vega Macotela’s long-term research into exhaustion as an operation of scarcity and wealth, as well as it sets out an inquiry into the way value is produced within the complex set of interdependent relations that make up our global economy.
The existence of “mills of blood” can be traced back to IV A .c in Grece This kind of machine was an apparatus used in places where neither wind nor water were available as means of production, and only labor could be used as source of energy. There were three of these kind of mills in Latin America, all three were used to make silver coins during the Spanish colony. There was one in Mexico, one in Peru and one in Bolivia. The MoB presented at dOCUMENTA 14 in Kassel is a reproduction of the Bolivian MoB.
The Bolivian MoB was constructed very near to the mine of Cerro Rico, an iconic mine in the city of Potosí. This was the richest mine in all of the Americas during the colonial era (now it's been almost totally exploited). Located about 4000 meters above sea level and surrounded by strong cold winds (-2º Celsius) the mill constructed in Bolivia shared the same harsh conditions as Cerro Rico's mine. Usually such a machine would be propelled by donkeys or oxen, but due to the grim conditions, animals died easily and were deemed too expensive and difficult to replace. The solution was to use slaves as well, since they were used to living in said context. Despite their endurance it is said that many people died in the production of Spaniard silver coins. These ghoul engines consumed physical labor as fuel, literally transforming human lives into coins. The moment at which the metal entered a symbolical realm.
The Bolivian MoB transformed flesh into a symbol of geopolitical status, just as today necro-politics transform life into profit. However, the MoB presented in Kassel for dOCUMENTA 14, is a machine that will not consume life in order to work (as the original MoB did). This project acknowledges the role the MoB will play as part of a troubling environment by reflecting upon a constellation of forces,historic tensions, unsolved issues, and hidden powers dwelling across, around and within the project itself.
In a financial dètourment of sorts, the MoB aims not only to rethink the circulation of symbolic power through an alternative currency, but also to question the complex process by which value is being produced. Here is where the prowess of currency becomes relevant again, beyond a mere economical tool, as part of a system of ideological identification and a geopolitical marker. Thinking of all these is that the MoB will produce a cryptocurrency that will allow for the hacking of the symbolic and material operations of the original mill.
During the 100 days that dOCUMENTA 14 will run in Kassel the MoB will produce as many teios as the audience manages, out of a limited of 30,000 planchets. Each of this teios will in turn mine a crypto-teio. At the closing of dOCUMENTA 14 the production of these coins will stop and there will be no possibility to produce more teios, nor crypto-teios. The MoB will be destroyed. All of the teios produced will be collected, certified and deposited in a safe.
From the third week of dOCUMENTA 14 in Kassel, an ICO (Initial coin offer) will be launched. This will signal the pre-sale of the digital coin, the crypto-teios. Whatever the ICO manages to raise will be used for the financing of the project. Through a workshop/seminar in Mexico City with various stakeholders involved in the process of conceptualization of the MoB —including Antonio Vega Macotela—, an imaginative debate on how the MoB could/should make visible ways through which the agency of the participants may allow an intervention to escape the perpetuation of the normalization of the nodes addressed by the MoB.