SPRINT FESTIVAL 2015
In 2012 the Guardian broke the story of the Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps, who originally used the alias Michael Green to start HowToCorp, a shady “internet marketing forum” that sold advice toolkits to wannabe entrepreneurs. In 2007 Shapps claimed audiences could “make $20,000 in 20 days guaranteed or your money back” – as long as they bought his bespoke software.
Visual artist Simon Farid resurrects the Michael Green persona and gives a “webminar” on successful internet marketing. How to create a trustworthy web identity; how to use the social media to promote yourself and your product; how to create an appealing product that promises fast and easy success.
Don’t Hate The Rich – Be One Of Them! is part of Farid’s research on “identity squatting”. “Derived from the conventional notion of squatting; occupying a pre-constructed space that has been discarded or left unoccupied. Where this practice differs from conventional squatting is with the focus on identity, looking for pre-constructed unoccupied identities within which I can operate through infiltration or mimicry” – Farid explains in an interview on create-hub.com.
Unfortunately, the performance fails both to be a penetrating satire and to raise the inherent political issues. Even if the aim was to showcase the difference between the fictitious marketable persona and the true personality behind it, it still fell short from the mark. It was mostly a monotonous, yet well-researched and occasionally witty PowerPoint presentation from a performer, who seemed ill at ease with an audience.
The highlight of the evening was the Q&A session, with the audience playing along asking “Michael Green” the secret of his success and Simon Farid improvising his answers with aplomb. Until….it transpired that an audience member actually thought he paid a ticket for a proper marketing webminar and was deeply disappointed by the end product!