3 July–30 November 2014
Museum Het Domein
NL-6130 AE Sittard
“Where criminals use identity theft to prey on the powerless and make money, we prey on the powerful and use their identities and position to get the word out about something that needs to be fixed.”
The Yes Men are among the most prominent and radical activist artists in the world today. Museum Het Domein is proud to present the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands by this provocative duo, the New York-based artists Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. Simultaneously, Out-Smarting Capitalism presents one of the first opportunities to see work by the Yes Men in Europe. Their often spectacular and bold interventions draw attention to the ways in which multinational companies ignore human rights, democracy, and the environment. “This is Jonathan Swift for the Jackass generation, a combination of devastatingly intelligent critique with slapstick hilarity,” writer and activist Naomi Klein said of the pair.
The Yes Men employ a unique method they have dubbed Identity Correction. Bichlbaum and Bonanno pose as representatives of large companies and as politicians on television, websites, or at business conferences. With biting satire they cross boundaries to ask moral questions about how companies and politicians abuse their power. At the same time, they reveal our indifference and inertia in the fight against these corrupt practices. “Unlike Identity Theft, which criminals practice with dishonest intent, Identity Correction is the art of impersonating a powerful criminal to publicly humiliate them for conspiring against the public good,” the duo explain.
Perhaps the most well-known intervention by the Yes Men took place on December 3, 2004. Exactly twenty years after the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, which killed eight thousand people and left half a million more with permanent injury, Andy Bichlbaum appeared on BBC World as a representative of Dow Chemical Company. In front of three hundred million TV viewers, this “representative” explained that Dow was finally taking responsibility for the catastrophe and would be providing twelve billion dollars in compensation for victims and to clean the environment. Due to the Yes Men’s intervention, Dow shares plummeted over four percent within half an hour and the company lost two billion dollars in market value. When the chemical giant clarified that it was a hoax, the company was also compelled to repeat its embarrassing denial of responsibility.
The exhibition at Museum Het Domein functions as a concise retrospective of several memorable interventions, and features videos, documents, and objects from the last ten years, staged within striking settings created by the artists. Their most recent project, The Yes Lab Action Switchboard, will also be highlighted: a populated digital platform that brings together creative activists from around the world and puts them in contact with collaborators and NGOs in order to foster a hotbed of grassroots action. The platform helps to develop ideas, find collaborators, and bring about activities that can change the world. As part of the exhibition, the pair’s most recent film will be shown: The Yes Men Fix the World (2009), which has received numerous awards, including the Berlin Film Festival’s audience prize. At the same time, the exhibition looks ahead to their next film, which will premiere at the end of 2014: The Yes Men Are Revolting.
The artists will appear for a special performance-lecture in the fall. Please refer to www.hetdomein.nl for details.