Demystification Committee


SWIM Offshore A-Z

Financial speculation on the beach

In March 2017 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 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 for patterns and coincidences. Looking beneath the sand, the installation sheds light on companies it suspects of illicit financial activity.

A vertical screen lists thousand of 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 corporate 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.

The work was presented as part of Holding Space, a video and performance event, and partially funded by a research grant awarded by Ravensbourne in London.