Visual Art » Art

Identity Correction

by

1 comment

In the past decade, the Yes Men—otherwise known as Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum—have cultivated a new form of activism they call "identity correction." Unlike identity theft, in which criminals impersonate and thereby exploit the honest and innocent, the Yes Men adopt the identities of criminals—the WTO and cutthroat corporate entities—to help them be more honest about who they really are. For example, the duo's first project, a "corrected" website for then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, appeared on the eve of the 2000 election at GWBush.com. For a casual viewer, the two sites appeared identical. However, embedded in the exactingly mimicked design and navigation were what the Yes Men perceived to be his true motivations for the presidency. When a reporter grilled Bush about the imposter site, he inadvertently gave the project an even greater sense of purpose, quipping: "There ought to be limits to freedom."

Bonanno and Bichlbaum began creating more corrected sites and, amazingly, they began to receive invitations to speak at conferences around the world as representatives of the WTO. Suddenly, the Yes Men were poised to take the identity-correction concept from the internet into a hybrid of performance art and prankster antics, appearing on news programs and behind podiums worldwide. Keep It Slick, the duo's first major exhibition, gathers memorabilia from these stunts, including falsified letterhead, business cards, props, and costumes. The main gallery, which has been arranged like a conference hall with rows of folding chairs and a makeshift stage, plays like the Yes Men's greatest hits. There's the "management leisure suit," a skintight gold body suit that will allow managers of the future to monitor remote workers through a screen in an enormous, inflatable phallus; and a vigil for the ExxonMobil janitor whose death from a toxic spill spawned a new, sustainable form of human fuel called Vivoleum.

Looking at the artifacts of their hijinks, it's impossible to understand how such absurdity is consistently accepted as real. Time and again, those few who experience the Yes Men firsthand hardly protest presentations that are preposterous and deeply offensive by design. But, with the help of the media, the Yes Men continue to remind millions what the "honest" intentions of corporate globalization truly are.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Comments are closed.

Quantcast Quantcast