MASQUERADE borrows its title and structure from Herman Melville's last novel, The Confidence Man – His Masquerade. The novel is an ironic critique of a culture of professional trust, which regards human relations as purely financial transactions. It is a filmic story in 45 scenes that narrates a series of exchanges between a so-called ‘confidence man' and his victims.
MASQUERADE is situated in the ephemeral worlds of 'high finance' and the 'global art markets'. Its narrative is set in an environment that gradually evolves from a gallery white cube to an auction house, commodity exchange, trading pit and even a courtroom... all places where values are negotiated and exchanged.
In MASQUERADE a TV-reporter is telling the story of the protested 'initial public offering' (IPO) of Art House Index. The index proposes the transformation of the artists' home, which in their practice they define as an artwork, into a financial instrument. The film debates Art House Index from different angles. It is described as a financial instrument that has the potential to render an opaque static product that is difficult to trade, like a house or art, into a tool of measurement that is very transparent for many investors.
While the reporter is addressing the camera, what appears to be a reconstruction of the IPO, is taking place in the background. But then it all starts going wrong again! Is the audience witnessing an insider-sales in an auction house, a market crash in a trading pit or is it a hearing in a courtroom, one that tries to unveil the intricate dynamics of a confidence game? The whole situation gradually transforms into an abstracted visual landscape of opinions and tastes. After all, art, like finance, is a system of belief and their markets are where this belief is put to work.