Art as Provocation

I saw one piece that really made my eyes roll. But it won a Golden Nica, so clearly I’m missing something. Paolo Cirio’s Loophole for All clearly resonated with the judges. He scraped the corporation registry for the Caymen Islands to obtain names and tax IDs of all entities registered there. You can then “hijack” a company, obtain a fake/real Certificate of Incorporation and start invoicing, pay no taxes, like big multi-nationals.

I’m all for this as social activism, but as art I have an issue. It hits the viewer in the face with the 1%/corporate greed/inequality punch and doesn’t give her much to think about–it constrains how we are expected to respond. Of course the deck is rigged and global corporations drive politics, but this work doesn’t give me any room to intellectually explore the issue. Instead, it’s an impassioned plea for social justice. Part of what makes art so exciting (to me) is the uniquely personal interpretation that is realised. Almost like skipping the book and going straight to the movie adaptation.

Some of the certificates.

As a footnote, Paolo practices what he preaches (or makes): he’s created his own tax minimisation/avoidance scheme and claims to pay no taxes. Not sure if making this public is a good idea, but this part I find wonderfully artistic and creative.

In Silicon Valley scraping doesn’t reach ‘hack’ status! This pic is from the exhibit.

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