Geographies of Avoidance
2011, prints, book, essay
artist-in-residence at Virtual Museum Zuidas, Amsterdam
Geographies of Avoidance is an index of a place that doesn’t want to be indexed. In Zuidas, the financial district of Amsterdam, many companies are invisible. They are not represented by nameplates or mailboxes but hidden behind a veil of discretion of glass and paperwork. During a residency in the district, my requests for a company list were denied several times and the project became to make a list of my own. From the Dutch Chamber of Commerce register all Zuidas companies were indexed manually per street and house address. That index resulted into a book in which each page represents one address. As a result the presence and substance of companies are reflected by the white space of this book. The more a company is surrounded by white space, the more real business activity it is likely to have. Yet, pages that are crowded with companies indicate to mailbox companies without any real substance, office, employees or real economic activity, showing how some addresses ‘host’ more than hundreds of companies. The book and series of prints are are an attempt to break open the Dutch financial district and show its key role in the international offshore economy by which many multinationals avoid taxes and financial regulations in their own jurisdictions.