Mari Bastashevski | State Business

Country of origin: Russia, Denmark
Project location: Russia
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2013

State Business combines media and social theories with investigative research in order to explore the relationship between the state, companies, and media which not only sustains crises as the status quo but produces new territories of sovereignty and aggressive mutation of warfare and forms of paranoia for the algorithmic age. Ultimately, the work questions whether a non-participatory representation of conflict is at all possible in the current media regime, and, if so, which kind of image of war will be resistant to any form of auto-image consumption when disjointed from its broader context.

The obsessive inquiry in this case was not driven by a journalistic impulse for an exclusive insight into a previously unknown truth, but by a necessity to devise new methods by which we can understand, hack, and generate cracks in the culture of uninterrupted and automated production of war.

This research was broken into eight interconnected case studies that combined form 8 chapters. In each of the chapters I attempt to reconstruct a conflict narrative by tracing a trajectory of a specific transaction that I posit eventually resulted in very real causalities without a culprit. Each chapter unpacks the connections between the actors in a manner that tries to cut through all established notions of The Other as enemy, arguing that The Other is always engineered and artificially manufactured in service of the conflict economy.


Mari Bastashevski is an artist, writer, and researcher. Her past works - usually a result of extensive online and field investigations - integrate manifestations of information, photographs, and texts to explore the role of visual presentation in creating and sustaining state-corporate power. Presently, she is engaged in a number of collaborative art and technology initiatives examining the historical nexus between technology, cultural, environmental and political violence. She has exhibited with Maison Populaire, Musée de l’Elysée, HKW Berlin, Art Souterrain, Noorderlicht, and has been published in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Courrier International, Le Monde, e-flux, VICE and a number of other venues. She is an artist in (and out of) residency at Chateau D’Oiron, and has been a technology fellow at the ISP, Yale, and the Data & Society Institute. She has also been awarded art residencies at IASPIS Stockholm and Cite des Art in Paris.