Long before the Panama Papers, there was artist Mark Lombardi. His art consisted of creating precise maps of financial transactions between the power brokers of this world – the shadow world between corporate crime and the underworld – the ecosystem of global corruption. Lombardi’s story ends with his untimely death – he was found hanging in his studio under questionable circumstances. But his art lives on. The day after 9/11, the FBI came to “borrow” his art from the Whitney Museum of American Art.
It is this vision of art that Corpocracy (rhymes with “hypocrisy”) celebrated at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston (the show ended on February 14, 2016). The Station Museum, for those who don’t know, has long distinguished itself by raising its fist and its conscience far above the high water marks along the Buffalo Bayou.
GLOBALCorpocracy is an attempt to take the physical show and spread the word – virtually – so that all may see and learn about how the pursuit of profit has drowned out morality, leaving a path of economic, environ-mental, and socio-political destruction across the globe.
Our hope is to get more artists, in this country, and around the world, to join – to raise their voices (and art) in this cause.
The show is possibly the most powerful indictment of corporate corruption in our time. The thirteen featured artists bring us their unique ways of seeing – confronting our everydayness with their work, helping us to see the world as it is. The disease is real. Most of us are trapped in this consumerist world, or we are too numb or exhausted to care.
The late southern writer Walker Percy used to say that when “the canary gets unhappy, utters plaintive cries, and collapses, it may be time for the miners to surface and think things over.”
The artists here are our canaries – warning us that something is wickedly wrong. The canary, alas, is too often ignored.
To take this show in its proper social context, you simply need to step outside and hold a finger (I won’t tell you which one) up to feel the prevailing winds. At the time of this writing, political outsiders – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, are shaking up the established order. Anger is in the air, an anger born of desperation and inequality, and a growing sense that the future is bleaker than the past. And like all revolutions, once the tipping point is reached – change happens.
Questions: will this tide of anger change America for the better? Or will ignorant armies continue to clash at night – leaving us all in a doomed spiral of a failed society? How do we make a difference? Is democracy in decline?
These are the questions this art provokes.
The artists on display have dared to confront capitalism through their work. They shatter the myths we live by; Democracy, as it is taught in school, is a fiction. The truth is we are consumerist zombies living under corporate rule – the Global Corpocracy.