As many other things among human affairs, friendship is performative, it is built not only with words or superficial appearances, but with facts; it needs opposition, action and reaction to be vital, to be alive.
Beyond the value of the items friends share, friendship means understanding the other as a different being, in its complexity, in its divergence. Would van Gogh and Grippo be best friends? It is difficult to know even if it could happen in a hypothetical scenario of dialogue like the one this work suggests. Since friendship is, from the beginning to the end, interchange of knowledge, of emotions, of energy. We should ask: did potatoes have the same worth to van Gogh as to Grippo? Would they have agreed in the value of potatoes as product of work, as energy, as a symbol?
Despite they grew up in different continents, conditions and time, both of them were interested in recognizing the other, the others, but in friendship none of these interests could guarantee an affective bond between the two artists. The Potato Eaters and Analogy 1, the two works which Villa is quoting, implicitly point out the same question, the same debate that perhaps would have built a great friendship: how many potatoes do we need to turn a light?
Potatoes settled in Europe as some sort of best friend for those who starved, and indeed they gave their energy to save many from perishing under famine. Thanks to potato’s energy, Europe was able to turn on not only thousands of light bulbs, but millions of lives. Ironically, in the American continent people need more and more potatoes to turn on a light bulb, and the strange equation of opposites that constitutes the living essence of friendship loses any possible meaning in this inequivalent system of exchange.
Text by Vanessa Villegas, written for one of the exhibitions in which the work was shown.