Demystification Committee


Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research (2017) Automated Landscapes: Data Centers Offshore Spring/Summer 2018

Profit for All

The directors of two companies meet to sign a loan agreement. One wants to secure funds for their business; the other’s aims are unclear.

Profit for All was performed at transmediale festival 2018, held in Berlin, DE. The performance is a ‘legal fiction’ and a means to explore tactics of secrecy widely used offshore.

The nature of offshore corporate finance is indeterminate and fictional. Multiple documents with contrasting information are created for any offshore company and kept in different places, scrutinisable by different people. Whether these are the taxman, a shareholder or the agent that set it up, no single one of them has the (legal, practical, financial) means to grasp an offshore company in its entirety.

Profit for All plays with this indeterminacy. During the performance, the directors of two companies, part of an Offshore Investigation Vehicle set-up by the Demystification Committee, undertake the necessary steps to distribute money they hide offshore back to their investors onshore — untaxed revenue from online sales made through such vehicle.

The loan agreement signed on stage constitutes a legal fiction to exploit the secrecy that any offshore company grants. Part of a wider tax avoidance scheme, the loan agreement is signed in the name of a puppet director and includes mistakes and omissions.

Two versions of the same performance exist, contradicting each other’s course of action. One was carried out in front of a private audience present at transmediale, who could follow the actions on stage by both listening to a voice narration and seeing revealing information displayed on stage. Another was simultaneously broadcast online to a public audience, however only featuring the voice narration and showing the actions on stage, thus offering an alternative truth by partially concealing information.

Both stories told are true, their accuracy only assessable from a specific point of view. Taken at face value, the broadcasted version of facts is legitimate: two independent companies have agreed to transfer funds between each other for business reasons. In reality, as apparent to the private audience, the companies operate within the same scheme.