On May 26, Valor y Cambio (#valorycambio), a participatory art installation and community currency project, had its New York City premiere at the 2019 Loisaida Festival, followed by a one-month residency that includes collaborations with local businesses and other venues. The project is also part of Pasado y Presente: Art After the Young Lords 1969-2019, an exhibition produced by Loisaida Inc. in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation, that opened on May 31, 2019.
Started by artist Frances Negrón-Muntaner and collaborator Sarabel Santos Negrón in Puerto Rico last February, Valor y Cambio raises the question of what communities value and introduces a community currency called pesos of Puerto Rico—named after the project’s birthplace—as a means of change, in the sense of both money and social transformation. By combining art, storytelling, and solidarity economy principles, Valor y Cambio seeks to facilitate a broad conversation about what is a just economy and how to foster collective empowerment in the face of austerity and neoliberal policies. Through engaging with local communities and establishments that are willing to use the currency for a specific period of time, the project provides an experience about how the economy can better respond to the needs of most people. It also allows participants to practice a different conception of wealth based not on extraction and profit, but full access to education, environmental protection, and racial and gender equity, among other fundamentals.Community currencies are increasingly used around the world to value the skills, stories, and talents of communities with limited access to the official currency. These currencies do not substitute the official one, but they enable communities to exchange work, time, and resources to meet their needs. Today, thousands of community currencies circulate in the world, including in the United States.
The peso has six denominations, each featuring a figure or community selected for their commitment to the project’s four core values: solidarity, equity, justice, and creativity. They are: the siblings Gregoria, Celestina, and Rafael Cordero, pioneers of Puerto Rico’s modern public education system; the abolitionist physician Ramón Emeterio Betances; feminist and labor organizer Luisa Capetillo; poet Julia de Burgos; human rights advocate and MLB Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente; and the eight communities of the Martín Peña Channel in San Juan.
The pesos will be available through a refurbished ATM called a VyC machine, for Valor y Cambio (“Value and Change”) located at the Loisaida Inc. Center among other spaces. Click here to open a document that lists where “pesos” are accepted throughout NYC. Participants just have to record their responses about what they value. After recording, the machine will offer the pesos, which businesses will accept in exchange for some items. These archived recordings will be part of a documentary about the project.
Please email Andrea Gordillo, to schedule a visit to the exhibition.
For details about the project, historical figures featured on the bills, and social currencies around the world, visit www.valorycambio.org
“Opinions like those expressed while in a panel, presentation, performance or through artwork are expressed by the author in their personal capacity and are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Loisaida Inc., its affiliates or staff.”