PAOLO WOODS AND GABRIELE GALIMBERTI
‘THE HEAVENS’ ANNUAL REPORT
Tax havens have quietly taken the world by storm. More than half of world trade now passes through these places. They are in the news everyday, and are fast becoming a constant fixture of political debate. The growing flow of articles and reports on this poorly understood subject are usually illustrated with images of palm-fringed tropical beaches. Is that what tax havens really look like? From Delaware to Jersey; from Singapore to Panama; from the British Virgin Islands to the City of London, Paolo Wood sand Gabriele Galimberti take us on a tour into a rarely seen, secretive world that is quite different from what we imagine.
For over two years they have travelled to the offshore centers that embody tax avoidance, secrecy, offshore banking, and extreme wealth, driven by a constant obsession with translating this rather immaterial subject into images. They have produced a body of work that shows what these places look like, but, even more importantly, what they mean.
It has been estimated that as much as $32 trillion are sheltered in tax havens worldwide, largely out of sight. This money is stashed offshore by very wealthy individuals and by companies that use tax havens, often legally, to escape financial regulations or reduce their taxes, draining their sources countries can spend on education, healthcare, and security.
Tax havens are not an exotic tropical eccentricity, but have become a structural instrument of the global is edeconomy.
They confront us with fundamental moral issues, involving the relationships between public and private; between companies and states; and between the haves and the have-nots. Woods and Galimberti have borrowed the photographic tropes and language of the world they have investigated.
They have actually created a company, aptly named ‘TheHeavens’, incorporated in Delaware, where for a small fee— with no documents required or questions asked—anLLC can be formed in less than 20 minutes. ‘The Heavens’ is now based in the same nondescript Delaware office as Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Electric,Google, Walmart, and 285,000 other businesses.
With support from Olympus and the participation of illy.
The exhibition furniture is created by Cathedrae.
Publications: Les Paradis, Delpire, 2015;
The Heavens, Dewi Lewis, 2015.
Design by Ramon Pez.
Prints and framing by Center Chrome.
Singapore. Courtesy of the artist.
Tony Reynard (on the right) and Christian Pauli in one of the high-security vaults of the Singapore Freeport. Mr. Reynard is the chairman of the Singapore Freeport and Mr. Pauli is the General Manager of Fine Art Logistics NLC, which is based there. They are both Swiss. The Singapore Freeport is one of the world’s maximum-security vaults where billions of dollars in art, gold and cash are stashed. Located just off the runway of Singapore’s airport, the Freeport is a fiscal no-man’s land, where individuals as well as companies can confidentially gather valuables out of reach of the taxman.
Grand Cayman. Courtesy of the artist.
An employ of ‘Jetpack Cayman’ demonstrates the watersport now available on the island. A 2000cc motor pumps up water trough the Jetpack propelling the client out of the water (359US$ for a 30 minutes secession). Mike Thalasinos, the owner of the company quips, ‘the Jetpack is zero gravity, the Cayman are zero taxes, we are in the right place!’