The Table of Power 1 & 2

First there was. . .

The Table of Power
TR179.5.H37 .P69 2000

Jacqueline Hassink
Menno van de Koppel, 2000.
xl, 21 p. : col. ill. ; 13 cm.

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Video of the book on the youtube:

The Table of Power is a very beautiful book and it is now a classic in photobook history. . .

and then came The Table of Power 2 (2012)
Ostfildern : Hatje Canz, 2012.
223 p. :  ill. (col.) ; 33 cm.
MC: The Table of Power was an amazing project, but what made you decide to go back to this concept again? Why go back?  Why now?

JH: In late 2007, with the start of the Great Recession, the economic situation in the world changed dramatically. The largest financial service companies in the United States, like Lehman Brothers, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, crumbled in a short period of time. Lehman Brothers did not survive. Major banks and the car industry followed. General Motors, for years the largest company in the world, filed for bankruptcy in the spring of 2009 but survived with financial help from the American government. The economic situation in the United States affected the whole world. The economic crisis put many corporations into trouble, with sales dropping 40 percent. It was the worst crisis since 1930.

In the spring of 2009, I had the idea of revisiting The Table of Power to look at Europe’s current economic landscape. It became my main motivation to see how the economic situation had changed fifteen years after the first project. I was interested in seeing if the previous top forty European industrial multinational corporations were still present on the new list and how boardroom design, revenue, and employee numbers had changed. Europe’s forty largest multinational corporations according to Fortune’s Global 500 list from 2009 were the basis for the continuation of this project. Since major banks and financial service companies had played an enormous role in the economy’s downward spiral and thus our immediate social coexistence, they too were included in The Table of Power 2 alongside industrial multinational corporations.

MC: What were the main changes [if any] that you noticed between project 1 and project 2?

JH: There were many changes. Besides the changes in industries and that the tables were technological more advanced there was also a geographical change.

Countries like Russia, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg were not on the previous list.

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Here some of the more technical facts:

The Table of Power

Shooting Period 14 July 1993 – 12 July 1995
Camera Olympus OM-30 (35 mm reflex camera)
Lens 24 mm + 28 mm
Film Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia ISO 50, 135; 36 exp.
21 Participants
Corporations Not Participating 19
Total Revenue 40 Corporations in 1994 $1,194,368.2 million
Transportation train, taxi, public transportation
Correspondence landline, fax, letter

The Table of Power 2

Shooting Period 6 October 2009–22 March 2011
Camera Pentax 67 II, Pentax 67 (medium-format camera)
Lens 45 mm (1:4)
Film Fujifilm Fujicolor Reala ISO 100, 120; 10 exp.
29 Participants
Corporations Not Participating 11
Total Revenue 40 Corporations in 2008 $5,252,710.9 million
Transportation flight, train, taxi, public transportation
Correspondence landline, mobile phone, e-mail
Studio Assistants 3

MC: What were the cultural challenges in dealing with these companies? Are they easy to deal with? Are they approachable? Are they secretive?

JH: Each participating country has a different cultural identity and so the corporations in these countries deal with me in a different way. Then of course there is also the element of corporate identity. Corporations are approachable but you have to know how to navigate the system.

MC: Was it possible for you to build any relationships with any of these companies/corporations during the making of these two projects/books

JH: Siemens, Eni and Volkswagen were the only companies that I visited in both projects. The spokesman of Volkswagen was the only person that I met twice

MC: How did you research your The Table of Power projects and how important is research to your work?

JH: The research for the project The Table of Power 2 took months. I worked with three assistants/researchers. We collected data from the last fifteen years of the Fortune Global 500. Fortune magazine publishes each year a list of the 500 largest corporations in the world. We looked at the Fortune listing of 1995 until 2010. In the second part of the book this data collected from the 1995, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010 editions of Fortune’s Global 500is used to create twelve maps showing changes to the European economic landscape over the fifteen years connecting The Table of Power and The Table of Power 2.

MC: Is the final form the goal of the work to produce a book?

JH: The final goal of the work is to create a piece of art. There are several ways of making the piece public and a book is one of them. However the book format for a project like The Table of Power 2 is ideal since there is so much data that is part of it that the way Irma Boom has structured the information makes for me the concept most clear. In the beginning I decided that the book had to be divided in two parts; part 1 and part 2. The first part is showing the result of the project while the second part compares the first project with the second project.  The second part is more like a laboratory in which Irma Boom and her studio as well is me and my studio collaborated.

MC: There are often many components to your work – in other projects you have produced different books, stills, prints, video work, etc. – one project with many different results. How did you decide the outcome of the project The Table of Power 2?

JH: The idea from the start has been to make a show, an ipad app and a book. The ipad app has never been produced but the book and show have.

MC: In your projects you have said “mapping” is an important component.  I see mapping as that intersection between information and knowledge.  How do you see mapping? Can you tell us more about ’mapping’?

JH: Mapping is way to make complex information more clear. It is also a way for me to understand a subject like how Europe’s economic landscape has changed over the last fifteen years.

MC: What were the technical challenges in capturing the images of the boardrooms in Table of Power 2?

JH: There is sometimes a problem with space and light. Few boardrooms are too small in comparison to the table it is positioned in. Sometimes the lighting is bad and we have to paly with curtains, etc. The project is shot without any additional lighting. Just me, my tripod and the camera.

MC: Who do you think is the audience for a Jacqueline Hassink book?

JH: The publicity of the book especially in Europe has been overwhelming. All the major national newspapers have covered the project in their weekend magazines as a portfolio and in several cases like the Financial Times Magazine it was the cover story. Also magazines like Wallpaper and Monocle did stories about the book. So in other words the art world, business world and design world are very intrigued by the result. That is what I like most when my work is looked at by a broader platform than just the photo community or art world. For me it s really interesting to see how these groups react and what part of the work they appreciate. That dialogue with my audience is very inspiring.

MC: I think of your publications as being great informational artists’ books is that something that you might agree with? Maybe?

JH: I do not see it that way.

MC: I mean you have made some wonderful and exceptional books, BUT do you see yourself as a book maker?

JH: I am an artist and express myself through different media. But it is true that I love the process of making books and also the collaboration with Irma Boom. It is a very creative process.

MC: Are book nerds always men do you think? Who line up to get their books signed by you?

JH: Yes most of them are men. As you know men are hunters – that is why they collect books.

MC: You are always extremely busy: What does the immediate future look like for you? What events/exhibitions/tours/publications are on the horizon for you?

JH:  I am off to Europe in the summer. In the fall I am going to Shenzhen for three months.

The Table of Power 2 has been produced in five editions;  a regular edition of 1000 books in red, a special edition of 360 books made out of three different wood types  and a collector’s edition of 60 books.


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