Texas Observer on Keep It Slick

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The Power of Yes

Josh Rosenblatt
The Texas Observer
May 24, 2010


A traveling installment of the Yes Men’s first-ever solo exhibition is up at DiverseWorks Art Space in Houston. Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism With the Yes Men features video of the group’s elaborate agitprop gags, manipulated newspaper headlines and fast-food logos, and interactive “conference rooms” where visitors can read the script of a “real” Yes Men hoax. Or consider a SurvivaBall, a protective suit designed to provide bottom line-loving corporate officers with 24-hour full-body protection from global warming.

Devotees of unencumbered global trade will probably find Keep It Slick hard to stomach. Which is understandable. I’d be reluctant to go to an art exhibit that busted on the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, no matter what the reviews said. But the Yes Men’s view of the world is so original, their approach to social responsibility so pointed, and their courage so unquestionable, I’d like to believe even Milton Friedman might tip his hat in appreciation. After which he would buy DiverseWorks and turn it into a BP gas station.

My favorite Yes Men production has Servin and Vamos posing as executives from the World Trade Organization and McDonald’s. They tell horrified college students that the best way to battle global hunger is to feed poverty-stricken third-worlders the reconstituted feces of first-worlders. Maybe you wouldn’t buy that pitch if it came from me, but the Yes Men know that when they say it—ID tags on their lapels, PowerPoint presentations at the ready, corporate doublespeak dripping from their lips—the idea carries the uncomfortable sheen of possibility. Our reactions say more about the dark side of corporate globalism than any non-profit report could.

Read full review here: http://www.texasobserver.org/the-power-of-yes