BUREAU D'ETUDES (France)
The World Government, 2005
Administration of Terror, 2010
The work of Bureau d'études, a French duo of conceptual artists formed by Léonore Bonaccini and Xavier Fourt, combines art, theory and research. Their works lend expression to the forms of mutual interdependence existing among individuals, politics, institutions and businesses. What was once the exclusive field of action of investigative journalism has now become a cultural practice. In a society based on information and communication, the gap between private and public, secret and manifest, is ever narrowing, opening up new opportunities for artistic quests, which can become a means of contrasting and revealing the veiled intrigues of power.
For several years now the two artists have been drawing power maps through which they analyse and compare different political, social and economic systems found in the contemporary world. The aim of these maps is to make visible what is usually concealed, namely the informal relations that organize business and politics. These descriptions and visual analyses of trans-national capitalism are based on detailed research and are almost always presented by means of large-scale displays. This artistic strategy, known as "critical cartography", has undergone substantial development thanks to digital means of communication; for computer technology enables cross-research - as well as analytical research - to be conducted on data and information, registering traces of multiple connections as well as the background to complex power relations.
The World Government map illustrates the complex intertwining among different structures of global power. It represents an attempt to visually display the intricate mutual interaction of financial cores, strategic and diplomatic think tanks, scientific and technical research, planning offices, political influence networks, mafias, intelligence-gathering services and legal and accounting consultancy. The artists make no claim to be exhaustive. On the contrary, they envisage their work as the snapshot of a methodical and constantly developing research. The power structure thus visualized is neither closed nor unambiguous in terms of hierarchy.
Authority does not exist as a clearly defined centre, but rather presents itself as a flexible, meta-administrative network that operates on a global level, in ever new forms. The "world government", according to the two artists, behaves like a body regulating chaos.