Dirty Works Greece

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Date: 2005

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Electronic Media


Artist: Dimitrios Fotiou

Confronting Bodies: Police's Electronic Crime Section. But everyone believes that a politician who gave the order is behind.

Dates of Action: January and February 2005

Location: Athens, Greece

Description of Artwork: According to Greek Mass Media, many important people in Greece --including politicians, judges, church and police officers, etc.-- are accused for corruption. Among other alegations, there are many denouncing them for getting paid to do "favors" and to provide several "services" to Greek citizens without following the legal procedures. Some of those favours refer to finding work in the civil service sector and transferring their children from one University to another (the last is illegal in Greece, except in special circumstances). For someone to find a job in Greece is very tricky, as "CV format" applications are not assessed as they should. Moreover, the huge availability of highly educated young Greeks (a major part of which are MSc and PhD holders) has caused job hunting to become very hard. But here comes the traditional "Greek" solution, having its roots in the ages of Turkish domination, when masters did favors to good slaves. In a very similar way, VIPs in Greece (e.g. politicians who are in need of votes), or those who have money to pay, have many opportunities to acquire some benefits not accessible to ordinary mortals. Dimitrios Fotiou is a sculptor who uses computers and the internet as a medium for his artwork; he has been participating in many online events and exhibitions. Following the practices of Tactical Media, he attempted to make a larger Greek audience more familiar whith net.art (since such projects are not so common in Greece). He has chosen a Greek topic and he used Greek language. He created a net.Art website of a virtual company offering all the illegal services mentioned above at moderate prices. The company also provided to its potential "customers" the ability to order its "services" online. His aim was to satirize the political and social situation, as well as convey a critical comment to all Greeks who are desperately looking for a job in the public sector of Greece. The site's name is DWG | Dirty Works Greece and its address is < http://www.dirtyworks-greece.info/ >. The work was signed by the artist (bottom right corner there was a link to a disclaimer) and also there was a link pointing to his personal website < http://www.fotiou.net/ > where he was explaining the concept of his artwork, and providing other exambles of similar net.art projects. The site was advertised in mailing lists and, within a two months period, Greeks living all over the planet began to post its address and have fun with the site.

The Incident: For many days newspapers were writing for the biggest electronic crime of the century in Greece. Irresponsible journalists who had first discovered the new kind of crime were boasting the "discovery" of a secret company working online, while the artist's name was not mentioned at all, not even his explanations about his project. As a matter of fact, a good crime sells more than a funny website in the Mass Media market, but the result of all that "campaign" was that Dimitrios Fotiou was arrested by the Greek police and was charged for fraud (a felony under Greek low), as well as for illegally collecting visitos's private sensitive data. It seems, in fact, that nobody even thought to check the site's online "order form", as it was so easy to find out that it was completely inactive and that data any visitor could submit on this website where never leaving the his computer to be stored on a server.

Results of Incident: Dimitrios Fotiou stayed three days in custody, while there was no computer specialist or programmer available to examine the form or even have a look at the website's logs. The police has not even asked the hosting provider to find out whether there has ever been in place an active dynamic data processing page or not. Finally. the Greek judicial authorities have decided to let him free, imposing a bail of 3.000 Euros and the obligation to appear to police once per month.

Source: http://www.fotiou.net/DWG_press.html http://www.fotiou.net/DWG_press/rhizome/rhizome.htm http://www.fotiou.net/DWG_press/Academia%20Nervosa/academia1.htm http://www.fotiou.net/DWG_press/histologion_en/histologion_en.htm http://www.fotiou.net/DWG_press