Rollback, 2004

Statement by Quinn Gomez-Heitzeberg

The idea for this installation came about when I heard a public radio program about the Pulitzer Prize winning expose on WalMart that was published in the Los Angeles Times (see Sources and Documents). During the program, a caller who had done business with WalMart described the lobby where prospective vendors wait to meet with WalMart buyers. He described a room with little more than a receptionist’s desk and rows and rows of metal folding chairs. The idea that the world’s largest corporation was not willing to spend the money to provide decent chairs shocked me. That shock was replaced by irritation when I realized what a blatant and unnecessary exercise this was. In the relationship with their vendors, WalMart holds all the cards. Successful and unsuccessful vendors say the same thing about dealing with WalMart; give them what they want or they will not do business with you. WalMart is ruthless when it comes to getting what they want. This can be seen as a positive or a negative, depending on what side of the profits you are. Within the WalMart culture, all things come down to price. There is nothing that will not be sacrificed to get a better price for the customer. For WalMart things are simple, you are either with them or against them.

The more I read about WalMart and other giant corporations, the more I realize that there are no easy answers. As much as people dislike WalMart, its economic force is undeniable. You cannot simply wish away the corporate culture that now fuels the world’s economy. Each of us, in our daily lives, makes choices that cause us to be more beholden to corporate power. If we do not have some idea how the system works, we cannot understand our place in it.

This installation is designed to illustrate the nature of WalMart and the individual’s relationship to it. I do not have an interest in telling people what to think about this issue, but rather in suggesting that we all need to make our own informed decisions.