“What type of work do you do?”
“I collect information”
So said Mark Lombardi, subject of one of the three arts (or should that be politics?) documentaries I watched at Sheffield Docfest last week. Those documentaries being (click on links for trailers):
- Mark Lombardi – Death-defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy [Director: Mareike Wegener/ Producer: Titus Kreyenberg]
- Marina Abramovic – The Artist is Present [Director: Matthew Akers/ Producers: Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre]
- Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry [Director: Alison Klayman/ Producer: Adam Schlesinger]
Mark Lombardi constructed elegant pencil drawings of arcs, circles, text & intersecting lines to demonstrate the power networks that exist in society. During the 1990s he produced power maps, making connections between people and interests, following where the money goes. His infographic style emerged from a scribble on a napkin which was meant to aide his memory. He saw the potential of this diagrammatic style to relay a narrative and went on to call his work ‘narrative structures’.
His drawings make connections, they join the dots for us from information sourced from public information. They highlight startling associations and abuses of power. His work shows the links between politicians, bankers, terrorists, powerful elites and corporations. One drawing could take him 4 years to research and is so thorough that he gained the attention of the authorities, with the FBI requesting to see his work after 9/11 and the presence of USA Homeland Security at his retrospective. His work could have put him in danger. The official story is that he died by his own hand on 22nd March 2012.