Goal: Stop the biggest arms deal in recent German history. Method: Offer a reward of EUR 25,000 for any evidence that puts one of the owners of arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) behind bars. Large-format posters throughout Germany advertise the reward in exchange for information related to tax evasion, money laundering or investment fraud.
Intended side effects: The arms dealers are exposed, acquiring involuntary fame across the country. The media reports on the main beneficiaries of the billion euros arms deal with Saudi-Arabia and the export of 270 Leopard II tanks.
Within just three months, more than 2,500 articles were published on our “social choking sculpture”. Even confidants, employers and friends distanced themselves from the owners. The arms deal with Saudi-Arabia – one of the world’s harshest dictatorships – failed.
“I am morally appalled!“
Kurt Braatz, KMW’s press spokesman
With ownership comes responsibility: Posters, “Wanted“ signs, flyers and postcards promise a reward of EUR 25,000 for evidence leading to the conviction of one of the owners. Line of argument: KMW shareholders do not face any legal consequences for their arms exports to criminal regimes but “together we will put them in prison!“
Graph showing the progress made in the investigation.
The interview was preceded by weeks of targeted attacks.
An elderly lady sends Burkhart von Braunbehrens a letter and encloses a (disarmed) bullet.
The human rights organization Bahrain Rights urges him to stop selling tanks.
His portrait is sprayed on walls in his home town.
Visual dishonouring of 38 German arms dealers. The center’s Erinye Tisiphone brings water used to drown pictures of the KMW shareholders (executio in effigie).
Instead of focusing solely on the company, the supporters of justice chase its owners.
“This campaign is a stroke of genius! If there’s any way I can help, I will.“
Screenshots of the original site: comprehensive biographical dossiers for each owner – testimony to a pure doctrine of moral schizophrenia.
Both families share an arbitrary attempt to fill their CV preventatively with humanitarian and aesthetic activities in order to morally compensate for their role within the arms clan.
"They just didn’t know what to do. [...] Arms manufacturers are well-acquainted with campaigns against them. They have been the focus of attention for several years and keep doing what they have always done: observe, stay silent, wait. But this time the surprise was too big, the campaign too radical, the approach too innovative.”
Teaching the arms industry the meaning of fear (Annual Review “Netzpolitik“ 2012)
Using art as a weapon to question the influence and responsibility of shareholders for their company. Before the campaign KMW’s owners were only mildly interested in their company’s business policy. The “photographer” receives a letter from her long-standing curator: “I call on your morality and urge you to play an active role in KMW’s corporate policy.”
The largest KMW shareholder decides to take legal action as he feels publicly “persecuted and humiliated“ even though the campaign aims at helping the owners overcome their distorted self-perception in order to make them see themselves as what they truly are. The lawyers of the extremely wealthy arms dealer manage to obtain a cease-and-desist declaration.
“It is better to expose a few people to public shame than an entire nation to German tanks.”
“There are no words to describe how much I like this campaign. They would first have to be invented.“
“Since the beginning of Wikileaks, no internet campaign aimed at rectifying democracy has fascinated me as much!“
“The Center for Political Beauty proves that art does not necessarily have to be an end in itself or the design of decorative goods for the offices of executives in multinational companies.“
“The campaign is unique in its creativity. Its repercussions and media coverage are tremendous. I just cannot believe that there are artists amongst the beneficiaries of these deals.”
„I don’t think there has ever been a campaign which has moved and impressed me as much. Not only is it well-conceived but also very thoughtfully implemented!”
“This is the craziest shit I’ve seen since the invention of social media!“
“Kudos to this impressive example of democratic resistance!“
“Attacking responsibility right at its core! The owners don’t care about the day-to-day business of their company and don’t assume any responsibility. They believe the economic system forces the company executives to act in favour of profit accumulation true to the motto: “If we don’t do it, other people will. So seeing as it would happen anyway, we don’t bear any responsibility”. This line of argument was unmasked by your campaign.“
The crime in question: the totalitarian Saudi-Arabian regime invades neighbouring Bahrain to brutally clamp down on the democratic protests. A few weeks later, KMW plans to export high-tech Leopard II A7+ tanks to Saudi-Arabia. The Economist ranks the country 161 out of 167 states in terms of democracy.
Burkhart von Braunbehrens, one of the owners, to the German newspaper DIE ZEIT: “Looking into exporting German tanks to Saudi-Arabia during the Arab Spring was of course bad timing.“
Renowned arms trade expert Andrew Feinstein in an interview with German national television on our campaign which ruthlessly revealed the ownership structure of KMW: "The executives of the weapons makers should not be able to sleep at night!"
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