BBC News Feature on AAC

11 04 2010

Artists Against Corruption (AAC) is the feature of a BBC news story to be broadcast soon. The story features four American artists who were recently interviewed by Humphrey Hawksley whilst in New York.

This will be the first major media exposure for the project, but definitely not the last. We have already been invited to take part in the International Anti Corruption Conference in Bangkok this November (14th IACC), expected to create more media coverage.

The day in New York went exceptionally well and demonstrated that the aims of AAC will be achieved. The organisation was established based on the belief that only artists are capable of communicating the complexities of what is meant by corruption, and the diversity of the direct and in-direct consequences of it. In working with artists this way, our aim is to increase awareness, reduce tolerance and intensify pressure on those that are corrupt, and those that can end corruption.

The four artists, a sculptor, a painter and two multi-media artists expressed several forms of corruption such as greed and dictatorship, and consequences such as genocide, war and  human rights abuses.

Each of the artists Jay Critchley (Provincetown, MA), Joy Garrett (NYC) , Barbara Cohen (Provincetown MA and NYC) and Chin Chih Yang (NYC), had different, often personal, reasons for being involved in the project. Painter, Barbara Cohen is Jewish and is appalled that the “never again” pledges made after the Holocaust have, and continue to be, broken. And Chin Chih Yang says his thoughts on corruption are directly related to his childhood in Taiwan.

Each of the artists feelings about their involvement in the project can best be summed up by a statement Chin Chih Yang made. He said, “AAC grants artists a chance to work with other like-minded artists in a common struggle: a joint endeavor as exigent as it is exciting. Perhaps we can accomplish more together than can be achieved in the single vision of any individual artist. This, at least, is what I hope for.”

We will add clips of the interviews when they have been broadcast. In the meantime we are preparing the profiles of each artists involved. We would also invite other artists to contact us if they would like to take part in the campaign.

UPDATE: BBC Feature on Artists Against Corruption

28 03 2010

The interviews on Friday in New York were a great success according to the journalist Humphrey Hawksley who sent me the following message at the end of the day:  “Paul, the shoot has just finished and it was excellent. Brilliant people”.   The artists involved were similarly happy with the way things went.   Now we await the date of the broadcast.

My last post about this shoot in New York mentioned the story of the photographer’s concerns about possible reprisals and his wish to remain anonymous. In the end he chose not to do the interview out of concern for the safety of his family.   But, all was not lost.   We will be using the images under the pseudonym El Bailar (The Dancer), a double entendre which the photographer chose because as he explained “in contemporary street language to dance is to fight!”  The name El Bailar will now be used for a global campaign. 

The El Bailar Photography project is Artists Against Corruption’s first international campaign.  The project already has the support of the world´s largest anti-corruption agency, Transparency International.   Photographers around the world are encouraged to produce a banner similar to that in the image below.

The banner should then be used to highlight the consequences of corruption with one or more photographs, which should be submitted with news about the particular corruption case (maximum 500 words).

On this site, we will tell the stories and maintain an image bank.  We encourage photographers to build campaign momentum by passing the banner on to another photographer in another region when they have finished using it themselves. 

The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness of the scale of the problem and the diversity of its consequences.  Our aim is to influence the policies and actions  of individuals, organizations and governments by portraying corruption in this very powerful way. 

Images should be sent to

BBC Feature on Artists Against Corruption

26 03 2010

Today the BBC´s Humphrey Hawksley is in New York to interview five artists for a news feature on Artists Against Corruption. It will be broadcast internationally. With less than a weeks notice we managed to pull together a great group of artists: photographer, sculptor, painter, multimedia and performance artist.

The gathering of these artists has already produced results. The photographer involved did not have appropriate images as of Monday this week, but managed to get a banner produced with the wording, “Closed Due to Mismanagement of Funds”, and used this in a series of shots of a hospital, park, public space and play ground, all in his home town.

The full story of this shoot is documented in Case Study 1: The First AAC Inspired Campaign, but in summary we can tell you that it became a great story in itself, demonstrating the problem of exposing corruption. Out of fear for the safety of his family, the photographer in question asked that his work be published under a  pseudonym El Bailar to hide is identity. This is the fear of reprisal felt in an American city. So, imagine the fear a whistle-blower may feel if they live in a dictatorship! This is why corruption is often never exposed!

Having overcome his fear by hiding his identity, we are still able to use his images to launch what we hope will be an international campaign. AAC calls on photographers around the world to follow this example. To create a banner with the same wording, but in your own language, and take similar images. Send the images with the related story (max. 500 words) to Please include your contact details.

Our plan is to use these images to produce future media coverage, all with the aim of generating awareness of the consequences of corruption, and the scale of the problem.