This year’s work was originally intended to be an exploration into online privacy through self portraiture, but, increasingly, has expanded to take on board larger issues such as the accumulation of wealth by the super-rich, and the prevalence of disinformation by media giants too closely aligned to institutions of power and control. Any study into these issues would be incomplete without a focus on the mega-events which pitch up in a country, or city, for a few weeks before leaving with huge profits and little benefit to the people who inhabit these places. An obvious case in point would be the current Olympics in Rio, an event being run with the rigours of a totalitarian state. Specific hashtags are not allowed. Content is not allowed to be shared online. Rio has exclusion (not inclusion) zones. The narrative of this event will be shaped solely by the IOC, and it will be one of beautiful scenery and sporting excellence only, all set to a soundtrack of inspirational pop. And yet the world will creep in. Two years ago, when the the football world cup was held in Brazil,as a panel of football experts gave their expertise, cracks could be seen in the windows behind them from rocks thrown by protestors. This year, Olympic torch bearers have run in the middle of a tight huddle formed by a military guard, ready to bundle the bearer away at the first sign of trouble.
The British journalist Barney Ronay noted this fraying of the edges during the recent European Championships in France. He said, “Staging a European tournament at a time when much of Europe itself is troubled by a peculiar kind of angst was always likely to feel like sticking up a plastic gazebo and trying to hold a birthday party just as the thunderstorm prepares to break.” It is with this mood in mind when I began collecting, cutting up and remaking images of the Rio property developer Carlos Carvalho. Carlos owns property in an area which has seen a large boost in public spending since the announcement of the Olympics for Rio, and he has a vision; noble housing, for noble people, who need noble things like golf courses and hotels. Carvalho’s developments will displace communities, and push all but the rich further to the edges of the city.
We look to patterns for reassurance, as signs that the world isn’t dangerous, or mad. But my patterns of Carlos Carvalho suggest a fragmented and increasingly fractious time. Fragmented in the sense that our sources of information are now so many and diffuse, it is hard to see an event for what it truly is. The Olympics is a joyless cash grab, utterly contemptuous of the cities it lands in, existing solely for those who least need to benefit.