Fictilus Awarded $1000 in Bank Heist Proposal Contest

Fictilus Awarded $1000 in Bank Heist Proposal Contest

The Center for Tactical Magic’s Bank Heist Contest at Southern Exposure paid $1000 cash to the best bank robbery proposal. Applicants planned out, drew up, and described their heist schemes, and the winning proposal was awarded the cash prize. After reviewing dozens of submissions at a live judging and award ceremony at Southern Exposure, jurors selected FICTILIS (made up of Andrea Steves, Timothy Furstnau, Sabrina Habel, and Gabriel Harp of Oakland) as the winner of the contest for their inventive proposal, Chase PyramidTM.

The Bank Heist Contest was organized by the Center for Tactical Magic ( with support from Southern Exposure. The public call for proposals was launched in conjunction with the October 2012 exhibition Making a Scene. All proposals were on view at Southern Exposure from February 1, 2013 - March 9, 2013. On March 1, the jurors reviewed top contenders, scoring them on creativity, feasibility, and presentation. The jury included Dale Seago, a security management professional with over 25 years' experience in military and private sector security programs, including several years in the security department of Wells Fargo Bank, author and former bank robber, Joe Loya, as well as a representative from the Center for Tactical Magic, Aaron Gach, and Southern Exposure Exhibitions and Projects Director, Valerie Imus. After reviewing each proposal, the jurors went into a brief period of private deliberation and returned to announce Fictilus’s winning proposal. The members of Fictilus were then given a sack containing one thousand Sacagawea gold coins.

Everyone knows that robbing a bank is illegal. But, there’s no law against fantasizing about it. Popular culture has long relied on this fantasy to promote a wide array of bank robber tales, often romanticizing the lawbreaker as a clever hero outsmarting the agents of economic oppression. The old American West was populated with such infamous desperados as Butch Cassidy, Frank and Jesse James, and the Wild Bunch. And, the Great Depression gave rise to the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, “Slick” Willie Sutton, and John Dillinger, to name but a few of the most notorious.

Although the current economic conditions are frequently compared to the desperation of the depression era, many law-abiding citizens would finger banks as the biggest criminals in our society today. Upon further scrutiny, it becomes clear that this heightened antagonism towards the big banking establishment deserves a creative outlet.

FICTILIS’s heist, Chase PyramidTM, is not a traditional robbery where the mastermind walks away with a large sum of money. Instead, FICTILIS proposes a pyramid scheme in which small investments into a common savings fund are used against Chase Bank. FICTILIS’s plan co-opts corporate design elements, redeploys an optimistic "we will all rise together" style of corporate speak and utilizes a feel good event planning style to inspire possible bank heist participants. The bank’s identity is compromised, simultaneously dismantling the bank's legitimacy and providing a return for the small investor. Even including Martha Stewart's rich chocolate cupcake recipe and instructions on how to pile them into a pyramid to lure in investors, FICTILIS’s proposal won for it’s creative and humorous approach and the professional presentation of their proposal, including a 26 page “technical manual” outlining their scheme.

FICTILIS is a group of artists and curators in the Bay Area and Seattle who produce works, shows, installations, performances, and other events and social practices within their network of artists and partners. FICTILIS was founded in 2010 by longtime collaborators Timothy Furstnau and Andrea Steves, and consists of a rotating group of collaborators in Seattle and Oakland, including Gabriel Harp, Sabrina Habel, Rachel Kotkin, Rani Ban, and Isabel Blue. FICTILIS will be opening a new space in West Oakland in 2013.
FICTILIS’s mission is to create and share work that is aesthetically, conceptually, socially, and technologically engaging. They are inspired by creative approaches to all areas of human activity, especially those not typically positioned as “art”. FICTILIS uses creative curatorial practices to bring together works of widely varying origin, by people from all levels of experience and achievement, to create cultural experiences that are accessible to all. They seek to promote art as a sustainable and socially responsible practice, and explore the roles artwork can play in programs for positive social change.

The Center for Tactical Magic engages in extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts. The CTM is committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation. For more info: