Patricia Sandonis participatory art in public realm, Salzamt Linz, Art in Linz, arte participativo en espacio publico, Valladolid, installation,, art and economics

Exchange Value, 2013

Participative installation in the Main Square of Valladolid. 

Visual and sociological documentation from relational processes with observation protocols.

Post-event visualisation as an analytical result of the experiment in form of Drawings, mix technic on paper made in Air-Salzamt, Linz, AT, 2013.


The City and Me. Curated by Lucas Cuturi.

Gampa City Gallery Pardubize, CZ, Salzamt Linz, AT, Palazzo Ducale Genova, IT


Exchange Value - The function of the Main Square in the city Valladolid, Spain.

Kommunale Galerie Lichtenberg, Berlin, 2013


The square wasn’t a square. It was outside the city‘s walls.



There was sometimes a market and people came from afar to shop there.

Exchanges were made. The square was a square.


The place of exchange became a market square.

The square was the market square.



The gremien grouped around it: the square was in the middle.

The square was the main square.

Cavaliers competed on their horses and the audience applauded, ate and played music in a festive atmosphere that lasted for days.

There was exchange.


When the square was destroyed by a fire, tents were build and the neighbours helped those affected by offering them their houses, food and clothing.

The square was now there for the refugees.



Somebody decided that the square should be rebuilt.



Somebody decided how the square should be rebuilt.



Somebody decided that the square needed order and a town hall.

Nobody ever thought that the square could not be a square any more.



An attempt was made to reclaim the square by placing a monument in the middle, so that it looked more like a square should.



People could come to the town hall by car. The square was a street.



An attempt was made to reclaim the square by building a park within it.

It was believed that the square could be reclaimed through the organisation of concerts, festivals and sporting events.



When misfortune struck, a lot of people lost their homes, jobs, everything. 

This time, however, no tents were put up in the square to help the affected, and the neighbours did not offer their homes, food or their clothing.

The square continued with its concerts, performances and events.

The exchange value was lost.

Patricia Sandonis participatory art in public realm, arte participativo en espacio publico, Valladolid, installation,, art and economics

Exchange Value is an interdisciplinary participatory project in the public realm to question the social function of the main square in Valladolid, Spain, from a historic viewpoint – from market square to event square. I wished also to address the role of sociology in quantitative experiments in the critical economic situation of Spain during the socioeconomic crisis of 2008.


The main square -Plaza Mayor- has undergone several different phases in its lifetime; from being used for knights‘ tournaments in the Middle Ages up to a the bureaucratisation of the city through the construction of the town hall. Today the main square is used for events, where citizens watch organised sports competitions, concerts, parades and Easter processions amongst others. If there is no event taking place on the square, the main square has a street character.

There are some rules made by the city council regarding the main Square in Valladolid, such as behaviour ones- people are not allowed to walk on flip flops during summer, people are not allowed to beg and a flea market is never taking part.

On 25 March 2013 the main square in Valladolid was transformed into a market and a place for social relations for five hours.

Exchange Value was an artistic installation of 124 white squares on the ground. On each white square was an object that people could change for another object that they could bring to the installation, under one simple condition: objects could only be exchanged with another object of the same colour. People could also bring and donate objects. This way money was not the exchange value, but rather an object plus a colour. The whole installation was documented and recorded through observation logs by Francisco Javier Gomez Gonzalez, Professor for Consumer Behaviour and his students in the Sociology department at the local School of Economics, who cooperated in this project.

To visualise and analyse what happened, I produced five drawings- one drawing for each hour of the experiment- that contrast with the sociological graphics to show the same information.


The main square remains in a temporary condition – like the temporary character of Exchange Value, like a flea market and like the time that is needed to cross it, and the time frame in which the installation took place. Exchange Value was an event: during the five hours in which it happened, the main square no longer had just a street function, but one of a public square, where people could walk around, could observe, talk to each other, or pick up something, joining in with an event that was not spectacular, affected or exclusive.