Demystification Committee

Financial speculation on the beach

On the evening of the 25th of March, as part of Holding Space: a film, video, sound and performance event, the Demystification Committee presented an installation of the Offshore A–Z database, inviting viewers to lay on the beach for an evening of financial speculation.

The work attempts to draw connection between financial entities floating in murky offshore waters. To guide the exploration amongst the shell (companies), the installation searches the crossover in-between the Offshore A—Z and existing financial leaks (such as the Panama Papers) for suspicious patterns and coincidences. Looking beneath the white sand the installation sheds light on companies it suspects of illicit financial activity.

A vertical screen lists thousand of offshore companies according to a number of different queries. These searches are not necessarily financial in nature, instead they speculate on the possible connections between entities through associations with (among others) mythical creatures, sparkling crystals and prescient dates – such as the first day of the New Millenium. These offer a way to read the database and grasp its sheer size, filtering through hundreds of thousands of companies at once.

When a company is selected from the list a horizontal screen displays its detailed information, including the original source of documents it was leaked from, a registration date and address, and a brand-image.

The installation takes a spurious approach to identifying relationships in-between offshore companies. Although attempting to remain free of context and affiliation, the businesses revealed must in fact frame themselves in some way, so as to seem legitimate, while remaining uninteresting enough to ward off investigation. The installation sidesteps this attempt at anonymity which offshore jurisdictions offer, replacing it with an unverifiable connection between multiple entities. This suggestion of financial misconduct can be neither proved nor disproved.

About Holding Space

For one night only, in a vacated factory, on a plot destined for property development, in an era of conspicuous imposition, a programme of site-specific film and video installations and performances, that will only be occurring at this place and time.

Thank you

The work was partially funded by a research grant awarded by Ravensbourne in London.