Positive Pranking

The Yes Men are at it again! This week the artists managed to work their way into a conference on the reconstruction of New Orleans, one year after Hurricane Katrina, and present a speech while masquerading as an executive of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum outlined a plan for HUD to immediately reverse their policy rto destroy 5,000 units of 'perfectly good' affordable housing, and outlined all the reasons that the existing policy had harmed the community. The Yes Men are 'media artists' not only in the sense that they use new media to carry out and document their work--often erecting websites parodying those targets in need of their 'identity correction'--but also in the sense that their work very much plays out within the news media. Such was the case when they scored a BBC interview, posing as a Dow Chemical representative, and again when they appeared as 'themselves,' in a follow-up to the hoax. CNN.com reports that Bichlbaum told a reporter, this week, 'The real reason we do it is what we're doing right now... You're paying attention to this issue of affordable housing and the absurd policies of HUD.' The Yes Men make the truth sensational and newsworthy, giving reporters an opportunity to write about it. Thus, by lying about who they are, in order to expose horrible situations, the artists turn a double negative into something slightly more positive. Visit their website to read a transcript or watch a video of this post-Katrina positivity in action. - Marisa Olson