THE GIFT

2017

“In the logic of the gift, there are three instances: that of giving, that of receiving, and that of giving back the gift. Historically - I mean the non-Western history of non-imperial communities - there have been various practices of exchange of objects, merchandise and possessions. Alluding to a non-capitalist form of exchange, in which dispossessing an object or giving it to another person does not generate an economic gain, I conceive this piece as a gift.

A few days ago I acquired a gram of gold from the gambusinos - solitary superficial gold seekers - who work in the Sonoran desert, on the northern border of Mexico, specifically in the regions of Sonoyta, Altar and Tubutama. Economically, they share the depopulated territory with geologists from large mining companies and with cells of armed smugglers. These transnational power groups exercise dynamics of mineral extraction and generation, control and exploitation of transfer routes over the desert territory.

I have decided to place that tiny amount of gold in the center of the Wren Library as a way to occupy a grand and historic space, the perfect container for Western thought and its colonial legacy. The absurd amount of mineral extracted from the Sonoran desert is offered to the University of Cambridge as a gift that seeks to cite historical extractions. When accepted, this gift opens the gate to an impossible retribution: hypothetically, how should a gram of gold extracted from a historic and currently plundered territory be rewarded by an English university?“