ADELITA HUSNI BEY
For the title of the photographic installation Working for a World Free of Poverty (2014) Adelita Husni-Bey borrowed the slogan of the World Bank, a United Nations financial institution, providing loans to developing countries. The World Bank’s official goal is the reduction of poverty, and its policy focuses on the promotion of foreign investment and international trade. It aims to facilitate capital investment in underdeveloped countries. The World Bank’s strategies are based on purely economic arguments and quantitative relationships. But
defining the world’s development by the growth of economic wealth alone is problematic, because countries may differ significantly in cultural and social values and thus may emphasise or prefer other fields of development. Husni-Bey’s project consists of a series of images that visualise a selection of the most recent statistical data of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organisation, concerning public education, market competition, employment figures, economic growth and military spending.
Statistics are used for policy making, and they legitimise the practices of these institutions. But, as Husni-Bey argues, complex sets of data cannot be put together without loss of valuable information.
They generally are used to make things look better than they really are. Translating complex data into simplified statistics may hide the real problems. She thus visually translates these statistics to reveal their simplification of complicated affairs, and uses coloured M&M-sweets to elucidate how statistical data are dehumanising because of their abstraction, banalisation and simplification of the facts. The rationale behind the figures unfortunately rarely necessarily reflects the real needs of the people.
Finally, the series seeks to highlight the ideological construct behind the production, analysis, and distribution of data by global organizations that
define the current significance and direction of “development”, which almost invariably is understood in purely financial terms.