Interview with Goldin+Senneby

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"The boys from Sweden are not really interested in Kate's habits, her lifestyle, the clothes she wears; they're interested in Headless Ltd., a company they want to know more about. And they're interested in a book which they think Kate is writing about them, a book called Looking for Headless."

These lines are from the first chapter of Looking for Headless, a serial novel that artists Goldin+Senneby commissioned from author K.D. The chapter was originally published as the work of Kate Dent, an employee at the offshore consultancy Sovereign Trust, but Goldin+Senneby retracted their claim about the author's identity after some prodding from Sovereign's lawyers. By chapter three, the legal confrontation had already become part of the story, and the lawyers' communication was just another of the many real-world facts woven into the fabric of the novel.

Goldin+Senneby's project Headless (2007-ongoing) uses the idea of investigating the Bahamas-based company Headless Ltd as the basis for a wide-ranging study of how events are remembered, created, and communicated in the production of narrative. The seedy glamour of offshore finance provides an effective context; it is fertile for plots of mystery and intrigue, and the huge sums of virtual money floating offshore make an apt metaphor for the symbols and ideas that compel people to action and set events in motion. Goldin+Senneby further extend the financial trope by adopting corporate practices to make Headless, outsourcing the project's many texts, events, and performances to specialists. For their exhibition at the Power Plant in Toronto, on view through February 22, Goldin+Senneby commissioned documentary filmmakers to interview an investigative journalist about how to make a documentary about investigating Headless Ltd. They also hired a curator and a set designer to devise a didactic display introducing viewers to the characters of the novel Looking for Headless.

A system as rich and recursive as Headless simultaneously generates both questions and answers to them. In previous interviews the artists have responded to questions about the project exclusively in the form of quotes from its various parts. For the interview below, however, they produced some new statements, perhaps mindful of the opportunity to recycle them in future incarnations of Headless. - Brian Droitcour

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Flooded McDonald's (2009) - Superflex

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Flooded McDonald's from Superflex on Vimeo.

Flooded McDonald's is a film work by Superflex in which a convincing life-size replica of the interior of a McDonald's burger bar, without any customers or staff present, gradually floods with water. Furniture is lifted up by the water, trays of food and drinks start to float around, electrics short circuit and eventually the space becomes completely submerged.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Tickets To The Sunset (2005) - Rose Marshack

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I convinced Ticketmaster's web outlet, Ticketweb to give me a promoter's account and allow me to post a tour of Sunset dates and times, as if the sun was going on tour. Tickets were available to the general public for purchase at Ticketweb.com.
More work by Rose Marshack

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100% Fun

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Claude Closky is a French artist living in Paris. He works in a variety of media, including painting, installation, video, and net art, in a signature style that revolves around the concept of conveying information and the connection between ideas and objects. The artist maintains three personal websites and a YouTube channel, each of which is copious in its offerings and yet mysteriously evasive in synthesizing his practice. What one can tell--almost instantly upon looking at his work--is that Closky has a serious sense of humor. He is best-known for his paintings of pie charts and other graphs but has impressed audiences beyond the art world with public installations like his 100% which tallied percentage points, one at a time, in a series of silkscreened flags, or his collaboration with Adidas and Colette, which looked like he'd taken a Sharpie to a blank white slate to convey the brand by making the simplest marks possible. The latter was a poetic gesture of giving back to the visual language of advertising whose vocabulary his work often critiques. He's by no means the first to do so, but whereas many such bodies of work revolve around autobiography or accounts of commodity fetishism, what is unique to Closky's commentary on this lexicon is his sharp analysis of language itself. Whether through an inversion of the relationship between word and image or the hyper-literal illustration of one-liners, this is Closky's most discernible signature and it is best played-out in his use of the list as a medium. By alphabetizing, counting-down, running odds, and exploring exhaustive variations on various categories of categories, he produces the wittiest possible metacommentary on the bond between form and content. And he is certainly not afraid to give viewers myriad examples of the beauty of saying nothing at all. In this interview, Closky discusses his internet art work and his love of both language and numbers games. - Marisa Olson

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Internet Delivers People (2008) - Ramsay Stirling

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More work by Ramsay Stirling

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Interview with Marisa Olson

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Rhizome's Curator-at-Large and Staff Writer Marisa Olson recently curated the online segment of the exhibition "OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding," which is currently on view in New York City at Parsons' Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. The exhibition, on a whole, looks at how democracy has become situated as a consumer brand in order to disseminate American values worldwide. The online portion of the show specifically examines subversive strategies emergent from network culture, and how these methods may produce and disseminate ideas that may work against the sway of branding. In light of the recent success of Barack Obama's campaign for presidency, largely due to Web-based grassroots organizing, the scope of "OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding" seems to take on a whole new significance. Given this backdrop, I wanted to speak with Marisa about some of the fundamental questions asked by the exhibition. - Ceci Moss

Many of the projects in the online portion of "OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding" are a direct response to the troublesome policies of the Bush Administration, whether it be the divisive rhetoric of "Us" vs. "Them" as seen in Steve Lambert's WhyTheyHate.US or war propaganda as in Joseph DeLappe's Dead-In-Iraq. Now that Obama has been elected president, do you think the tone of politically minded art will change? Working on this show, do you have any sense of what that change might be?

It's funny, a lot of people have been asking me this. One person asked me if there's no longer a need for activist art. Of course there is! I think there's a sense of relief and excitement about Obama's election, but I think things will only gain momentum. What's ...

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Donald Judd, or Cheap Furniture? (2007) - Graydon Parrish and Mikhail Simkin

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Goodbye Bush!

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Today marks a new era for American politics and for international relationships. But before we move forward, I suggest we look back to art produced during the Bush administration. Over the past eight years, media artists have sought to subvert and interrogate the policies and machinations of this administration from a myriad of perspectives. A quick jaunt through Rhizome's Artbase reveals this trajectory. In this post, I selected a few my favorite "Bush-era" projects from the ArtBase in order to situate where we're coming from, but also to remind everyone that democracy is an ongoing project, and that the years to come will require the same degree of engagement.

Note: Projects that are over a year old require a Rhizome Membership to view. For details about our access and membership policies click here. To sign up for an account click here.



ASCII BUSH (2006) by Yoshi Sodeoka


Artist's statement: ASCII BUSH is an ascii video rendition of two State of the Union addresses one delivered by George W. Bush on January 12, 2003 (just before the current Iraqi war); the other by his father, George H.W. Bush, on March 6, 1991 (right after Operation Desert Storm).

The basic goal of this project is to make art from the debris of our culture by recycling these dreadful and painfully long presidential oration. The speeches are not edited—just digitally filtered. And like I said, they are very lengthy. ASCII BUSH is definitely boring enough to be interesting!!!



bushSpeech (2004) by max Min


Artist's statement: at bushSpeech.org you can create a speech for george w. bush. make him say the things you always wanted him to say. as in real life, he just says what others tell him to. now it is your turn. you don ...

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Tainted White

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Le Corbusier wrote When the Cathedrals were White: A Journey to the Country of Timid People after his first trip to the United States in 1935. Whether the tome's resoundingly sour tone reflects the architect's failure to secure commissions or his anxiety, as Koolhaas later theorized, at finding in Manhattan the half-brother of "La Ville Radieuse" remains unclear. In any case, Le Corbusier's critique of the puritanical cleanliness he sees as a "national virtue" has provided important insight into the underbelly of the American architecture and "the psychosexual charge of the white wall," a locus of repressed desires given preeminent form in the white cube. Justin Beal's current project at New York's Bortolami smartly delineates these related histories within a broader libidinal economy, inclusive of "design, politics, advertising, language and aesthetics." Five rectangular sculptures, fronted with glass and sided with untreated aluminum, sit as low pedestals or hang flush with the walls, explicitly mimicking the proportions of corporate office windows. Backed with opaque sheets, the glass doesn't offer a view onto any subject, but rather remains flat and affectless, in keeping with the impassive radiance of the surrounding walls. In Beal's previous sculptures, fruit functioned as surrogates for human bodies, their gradual decay offering counterpoints to the Platonic precepts underpinning the sculptures' source architectures. "The mold, the drips, the flies," Beal once wrote, "illustrate the inevitable impossibility of containing a human organism within a structure made of glass and steel and sheetrock." At Bortolami, Beal presents a further degree of removal, introducing glory hole-shaped cuts in the glass, stuffed with dirty cotton rags, and sex toy-like objects, in steel, with what look like plaster casts of oranges on either end. The sheer banality the white cube presently connotes all but hides the way ...

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Dancing with the Stars

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This week, critic Ben Davis wrote an interesting treatise on "The Superartist." Davis uses the term to describe those artists who are super savvy at penetrating the media, and become superstars by virtue of their collaborations with big corporations and work in mainstream contexts. His argument was that so-called 'Superart' has a populist touch, and appreciation of the work tends to be an appreciation of being part of a collective, as opposed to an individual, aesthetic experience, just as the works themselves tend away from personal statements and towards blank social referents. As it turns out, this could be a very good critique of Lincoln Schatz's newest project, Esquire's Portrait of the 21st Century, in which the generative artist uses his own custom software to create an evolving portrait of those 75 people the magazine has deemed the most important people of the coming decades...Just in time for Esquire's 75th anniversary issue. Schatz has constructed a "CUBE," the white frosted glass walls of which very much resemble a Chelsea gallery facade except that the structure is studded with video cameras and Mac minis. The stars in question are invited into the cube for hour-long interviews about their personal interests, after which they are generatively collaged into an evolving constellation with other stars, according to their shared interests. In a tried and true display of the magazine's firm grasp of 21st century media, Schatz is keeping a blog in which the portraits are uploaded. So far, the footage is very beautiful and almost painterly in the ways that it overlaps and meshes together. It's easy to create corporate collaborations as sell-out projects, but harder to spend the time thinking about a work's wider resonance. The artist's bio says that his work "has focused ...

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