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As a follow-up to this Lombardi article, the book on Lombardi and his art
("Global Networks") has been available for some time now, and is
absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest
On Fri, 31 Oct 2003, John Taylor wrote:
> Dear SocNetters:
> I was provided with the great privilege of previewing the Lombardi exhibit,
> opening Saturday, at The Drawing Center in SoHo, NYC.
> The exhibit, running through November, is a MUST SEE for all SocNetters,
> especially for those with an interest in Homeland Security, Counter Terrorism
> or/and Global Finance.
> The custodian of the artist's work also expressed an interest in the idea of
> developing a SocNet team to database the entire collection of Lombardi's data
> cards (approx. 17,000?) to develop computer models of his research.
> Anyone interested in the computer modeling project should liaison with
> Catherine de Zegher, the Center's Director, for additional information. Her email
> address is [log in to unmask]
> Again, I cannot say enough about the value of this intriguing exhibit and,
> again, encourage everyone's attendance.
> John Taylor
> Homeland Security Summit
> The Sinister Beauty of Global Conspiracies
> > October 26, 2003
> > By ELEANOR HEARTNEY
> > Conspiracy theories are a grand old American tradition -
> > the mother of them all being the speculation surrounding
> > President John F. Kennedy's assassination. In the
> > entertainment field, paranoia sells - from the novels of
> > Tom Clancy to the <object.title class="Movie"
> > idsrc="nyt_ttl" value="162748">"X-Files"</object.title> to
> > an endless series of Hollywood blockbusters. After
> > pornography, among the most visited sites on the Internet
> > are those devoted to conspiracies.
> > But what if it's all true? The conspiracy industry, with
> > its mostly unproved if not unprovable charges of vast webs
> > of shadowy operatives, secret political alliances and
> > illicit money channels, has been given a boost by recent
> > events. The Sept. 11 attacks provided a glimpse into a
> > world of loosely bound international terrorist cells while
> > inspiring a host of wild charges about the secret
> > involvement of the United States and other governments. The
> > Enron scandal uncovered a network of off-the-books
> > partnerships, and, more recently, the director Michael
> > Moore announced that his next documentary, "Fahrenheit
> > 911," would delve into connections between the Bush and bin
> > Laden families.
> > Mark Lombardi would not have been surprised, as can be seen
> > in "Global Networks," an exhibition of his delicate
> > filigree drawings that map his version of the flow of
> > global capital. The show opens on Saturday at the Drawing
> > Center in SoHo and remains on view through Dec. 17. In
> > these works, solid and broken lines, circles and squiggles
> > enmesh the names of organizations and individuals in webs
> > of often surprising interconnections. One drawing charts
> > the workings of the Vatican Bank, in the process linking
> > its directors to the Mafia and the illegal transport of
> > firearms.
> > Another purports to show how Iraq was armed in the 1980's
> > through a secret scheme supposedly involving the top levels
> > of the American and British governments and Italy's largest
> > bank, the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. Yet another follows
> > the course by which the Bank of Commerce and Credit,
> > International (B.C.C.I.) was accused of having become a
> > funnel for a variety of illegal operations, including
> > laundering drug money, supporting the Iran-Contra operation
> > and backing Afghan Mujahedeen fighters.
> > Lombardi died, a suicide, at 48 in March 2000. (Conspiracy
> > theories notwithstanding, those closest to him cite a
> > series of personal reversals.) Since then, his work has
> > attracted a growing body of admirers. One of them is Robert
> > Hobbs, a professor of art history at Virginia Commonwealth
> > University and the curator of this exhibition, which was
> > organized under the auspices of Independent Curators Inc.
> > Mr. Hobbs first encountered Lombardi's work through a
> > review in Art in America magazine in June 1999.
> > Immediately, he was impressed by its sheer beauty, by the
> > delicacy of the curving lines, delineating abstract force
> > fields created by the global movement of money. He
> > describes the works variously as webs, rhizomes and
> > constellations. "It was a mental and visual seduction," he
> > said.
> > Mr. Hobbs was also intrigued that the drawings showed only
> > a sliver of a larger, inaccessible reality. "The drawings
> > exist," he said, "between what is known - the people, the
> > organizations, the court judgments - and the unknown, which
> > is what is between them. In that sense, they are about the
> > difference between the ideal and the real."
> > Mr. Hobbs never got a chance to meet the artist. But after
> > hearing of Lombardi's death, he resolved to do something to
> > bring the work to a larger audience. This turned out to be
> > a job of monumental proportions. Along with a studio full
> > of complex, meticulously delineated drawings, Lombardi left
> > behind a file of 14,500 index cards with information on the
> > subjects of his investigations, all drawn from publicly
> > available sources. His tiny studio also contained hundreds
> > of books on art, politics, banking, history and espionage
> > that had served as source material for his charts.
> > In order to prepare the catalog for this show, Mr. Hobbs
> > had to tease out as best he could the factual underpinnings
> > of each work. "In the end," he said, "I had to produce my
> > own reading of them. I'm just suggesting one set of
> > narratives, but there are probably many others."
> > What kind of artist devotes his life to ferreting out
> > global conspiracies? Joe Amrhein, director of the Pierogi
> > Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has represented
> > Lombardi's work since 1998. He is quick to distance
> > Lombardi from the Hollywood stereotype of the crazy
> > conspiracy theorist. "He was not a paranoid," he said. "He
> > was not a negative person." Nor, Mr. Amrhein said, did
> > Lombardi have a political ax to grind. He noted wryly that
> > "you probably need to have less understanding about the
> > connections to be political."
> > Instead, Mr. Amrhein said, "he was just completely
> > fascinated by connections, how one thing led to another,
> > how the C.I.A. would back a coup in Australia, someone
> > would be murdered in Turkey and things would happen in
> > Indonesia."
> > LOMBARDI, who had a background in art history and worked at
> > various times as a reference librarian, a curator and a
> > researcher, initially conceived of his drawings as an
> > adjunct to his unpublished writings on complex events like
> > the Reagan drug war and the savings and loan crises.
> > Eventually, he realized that the drawings were the real end
> > product of his research. At the time of his death, he was
> > beginning to gain some attention in the art world,
> > receiving favorable notice for his solo shows and
> > invitations to appear in important group shows.
> > Since his death, he has received other kinds of notice as
> > well. After an article about Lombardi's work appeared in
> > The Wall Street Journal, several people called the Pierogi
> > Gallery to inquire about buying not the drawings but the
> > collection of index cards. And in October 2001, an F.B.I.
> > agent showed up at the Whitney Museum, where Lombardi's
> > drawing "BCCI-ICIC-FAB, c. 1972-1991 (4th Version),
> > 1996-2000," which is in the museum's permanent collection,
> > was on view, to examine it for information on Al Qaeda's
> > financial network.
> > Mr. Hobbs suggested that a renewed global awareness
> > following Sept. 11 has intensified interest in Lombardi's
> > work. "The real import of Mark's work may not be understood
> > for years," he said. "He presented us with the image of a
> > vast reservoir of money outside international boundaries
> > and limits. He gave us a picture of something we haven't
> > seen before."
> > Mr. Amrhein put it a little differently: "His work shows us
> > that these things are always going on. People just forget
> > about them from time to time."
> > Eleanor Heartney is an art critic living in New York.
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