Mark Lombardi: Global (Conspiracy) Network
BY URI DOWBENKO
Mapping criminal corporate-government connections is a dangerous occupation. Exposing the players and their front companies is even more hazardous. These are the subjects of Mark Lombardi’s art — the hidden global realities of money and power.
His artwork, literally as well as figuratively, connects the dots of international high-level white-collar crime networks.
Lombardi’s drawings are mandalas of conspiracy, flow charts of shady deals and shaky agents, and org charts of world-class con men, revealing the genealogy of wickedness in the highest places of corporate and government power.
“Mark Lombardi: Global Networks” is a traveling exhibition of 25 drawings, some as large as 4′ x 12,’ organized by New York-based Independent Curators International (ICI) and curated by Robert Hobbs of Virginia Commonwealth University. In graphic terms, the drawings document the major financial and political frauds of the late 20th century. They are flow charts of illicit money and power, solid and dotted lines and curves as well as broken arrows denoting the flows of illicit financial operations and covert revenues.
DECONSTRUCTING CRIMINAL CONNECTIONS
One of the drawings called “George W. Bush, Harken Energy and Jackson Stephens, ca 1979-90” (1999) shows the connections of James Bath, a former CIA spook and business broker, front man for Saudi money who connected the Bush Family and Bin Laden Family (of the Osama bin Laden/ 9-11 legend) in shady deals in Texas and around the world.
Other drawings document the Savings and Loan (S&L) Frauds, IraqGate Fraud (illicit sales of nuclear and biological weapons to Iraqi kingpin Saddam Hussein with a $5 billion US Government-guaranteed phony “agricultural loan” through the Banca Nazionale de Lavoro), Iran Contra Fraud, and the Clinton/ Jackson Stephens Frauds.
Lombardi was an artist and an archivist, not an investigative reporter; he simply used available material from books and newspaper articles (from the public record) for the information “content” of his work.
Viewing his art (mostly un-inked pencil drawings) requires the ability to 1/ see the graphics, 2/ read the names of people and corporate fronts, and then 3/ integrate this content of networks into an epiphany about How the Real World Works.
Historically, of course, the Harken Stock Fraud made George W. Bush his first serious chunk of money. It should be also noted that Bath, a former cokehead pal of George Jr., was also connected with the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) Fraud.
Lombardi’s web-like drawings show the decentralized nature of the networks of crime and flows of global capital. The key is a multitude of front companies, which add layers of complexity to the conspiracies themselves.
Allegedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression), Lombardi supposedly died from suicide (or was suicided) in 1999 — after two successful solo shows and just as his career was about to go to the next level.
It should also be noted that Jim Hatfield, author of “Fortunate Son,” (Soft Skull Press), a biography of George W. Bush, which alleged that George Bush Jr. was convicted in Texas on cocaine charges, until his record disappeared from the court system, was also found dead by suicide in an Oklahoma motel.
ADDING A REAL WORLD CONTEXT TO ART
Artist Mark Lombardi (1951-2000), whose business card ironically read “Death Defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy,” was found dead in his studio, officially declared a suicide in the police report. Or as government whistleblower Al Martin, author of “The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider” (http://www.almartinraw.com) says, “The guy put together one chart too many.”
Martin was retained by attorney Frank Rubino, defense counsel for Panamanian strongman Antonio Noriega, to produce a chart for the courtroom, which would explain the complex relationships between individuals and offshore companies, etc.
The large-scale 5 foot by 9 foot chart was topped off by a color photo of former president George Herbert Walker Bush and Antonio Noriega embracing one another, both giving a victory sign to the camera.
It should be noted that US troops under George Bush invaded Panama, then hijacked Noriega to Florida, where he was convicted of drug charges. Noriega is still in prison to this day.
“When they set up this chart in the courtroom, the judge said, what’s that? We had Bush connected to this drug operation,” recalls Martin.
Martin says that later CIA operative Frank Snepp joined the defense team (Rubino himself was a former CIA agent) and gave daily reports on how the trial against Noriega was proceeding. /p>
“I was real naive,” says Martin about his participation in the Noriega trial. “I made the assumption that this is what they wanted” — to have a flow chart of personnel, covert operations, as well as banks and other front companies and how the schemes actually worked. Martin notes that they didn’t really expect him to use the real names of people and front companies
“Investigative reporter Dave Lyons from the Miami Herald told me this is what people can understand,” Martin continues. “Graphs and charts help the average person understand complex conspiracies
Martin jokingly concludes, “Charts and graphs — bad. Shredders – good.”
MAKING POLITICALLY INCORRECT ART
In a video of the artist shown at the exhibition, Andy Mann asked Lombard in February 1997, “Do you fear for your life?”
Lombardi didn’t answer the question. Instead he said, “This is a way I can map the political and social terrain in which I live.”
According to his friends, Lombardi told them that he was being followed — just before his death.
Lombardi also described his work as “visualized fields of information [which] started out as corporate diagrams.”
In the end, Mark Lombardi’s contribution to culture is his relentless search for the truth. He was a pioneer in the cartography of realpolitik, mapping international networks of crime which include high-level government officials and shady so-called “business” men.
Lombardi’s legacy is his depiction of geo-political realities, the essence of global criminal conspiracies. No theory, just conspiracy –- conspiracies that continue to haunt the planet into the 21st century.
Copyright © 2003 Uri Dowbenko. All Rights Reserved.
* Uri Dowbenko is an artist and media analyst. His book, “Bushwhacked: Inside Stories of True Conspiracy” is available at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores (http://www.conspiracydigest.com) His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Lombardi: Global Networks Exhibition Itinerary
The Drawing Center New York, New York November 1 – December 18, 2003
Falconer Gallery, Grinnell College Grinnell, Iowa May 28 – August 1, 2004
Art Gallery of Ontario Toronto, Ontario Canada September 10 – December 5, 2004
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts San Francisco, California January – April 2005