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Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

Soda Tab

By  Maitejosune Urechaga

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Decades ago, an urban legend started that went something like this: Soda-can tabs can be exchanged for time on a kidney-dialysis machine. Or was it for cancer treatments? Even though it wasn't true, and there has never been such a program, some people continued collecting tabs. Students brought them to school, assuming that their teachers were connected to these charitable endeavors. Miami artist Maitejosune Urrechaga first encountered the phenomenon when she began teaching nine years ago, and kids brought her the tabs as recently as last year, just before she started a soda-tab project of her own.

A student approached her with a bag of more than 100 tabs and told Urrechaga she would need them. Urrechaga didn't know why she would need them, but accepted the bag, anyway. A week later, Jane Hart, the curator of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, told her about Adaptation, a show featuring found-object artworks. Urrechaga decided to do an installation titled "Soda Tab." Once word of her project got out, she began receiving tabs from other students, co-workers and even a soda-devouring UPS delivery man who thought he was saving his tabs for an organization that helps kidney patients. "I was like, 'You know, that doesn't really exist,' " Urrechaga recalls. "I had to, like, break their hearts."
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