"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
Tonight at 7 p.m. the Dehli-based Raqs Media Collective will begin a three-day run of programs at the New Museum, as part of the Night School series of public seminars. Raqs has been embraced by the art world, although, as the ambiguity of the group's name suggests, the scope of its projects extend to a larger audience. Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta joined forces in 1992, after they completed their studies in Mass Communications in Delhi, and, at the time, had planned a collective career in independent cinema. But their work in documentary filmmaking and public broadcasting, coupled with their fascination with the nascent internet, drew them to issues related to the production and dissemination of information. Today, they continue to address those "rarely asked questions," to use the phrase the group has half-jokingly suggested its name is an abbreviation for.
Raqs's projects tend to take the form of open-ended, open-sourced networks. OPUS, or Open Platform for Unlimited Signification, is an online database of artist-submitted artworks. Conceived in the spirit of open-source software development, Raqs's online digital commons encourage sharing, collaborating, and appropriation. The collective's commitment to free culture continues in The Sarai Programme at Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. The Sarai network of artists and scholars produce vast amounts of research and other forms of cultural knowledge, all of which is placed in the public domain.
The collective has also expressed its sensibility through a resistance to restrictions and hierarchies in their installations, performances, and theoretical writings. A recent essay in the inaugural issue of e-flux's Journal takes several fresh and surprising approaches to make ...
As promised, I attended last week's "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time" at the Guggenheim and wrote the following report, which attempts to convey both the variety of approaches participants took to the symposium's broad topic as well as the experience of being present and alert for the full duration, with just a break for breakfast and a few power naps.
The HUO-year is a unit of time invented by art critic Jennifer Allen to measure how far in the future a name will be remembered. You get one year for each project, two for an exhibition, seven for an interview, etc. HUO expands to Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator whose intellectual hyperactivity inspired Allen to write a wry essay predicting that Obrist's omnipresence in the present will guarantee him more future name-recognition than John Cage, even as a performance of the latter's ORGAN2/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible) continues to hum through the year 2639. Obrist racked up a few dozen more HUO-years at the "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time," as did the event's organizer, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector. With an eye to the future, the entire Program was recorded, and at this moment the Guggenheim's curatorial staff is surely working to label, transcribe, and catalogue those videos for posterity. In the meantime, here's an elliptical and incomplete summary.
The symposium began with a talk by philosopher Ted Sider, who gave a lucid description of the theory of static time, which proposes that entities are permanently present at points in space but are only visible to us at certain points in time. Next was Joshua Viertel, president of Slow Foods USA, an earnest nonprofit administrator ...
Tonight at 6 p.m. the Guggenheim presents a marathon symposium titled "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time." The museum's chief curator Nancy Spector organized the event in the mold of Hans Ulrich Obrist, who has presided over similar symposia in other cities, most recently a "mini-marathon" in Beijing on New Year's Eve that lasted a measly 12 hours. Like its predecessors, the 24-Hour Program is presented in an art-world context but brings together thinkers across many disciplines. Tonight's (and tomorrow's) lineup of speakers includes Ronald Mallett, a physicist who has devoted his life to building a time machine, and Joseph LeSauteur, an expert in the psychology of circadian rhythms. Also slated to participate are Philippe Parreno, Angela Bulloch, and Liam Gillick, artists featured in the exhibition upstairs whose run will end when the symposium does. "theanyspacewhatever" is about ten artists who emerged in the 1990s, but it doesn't show any 1990s art. Instead, it comprises new installations conceived specifically for the Guggenheim's rotunda. That should give a clue about these artists' attitude toward temporality. Over their careers they have avoided producing static, stand-alone objects, which are doomed to become relics or fetishes over time, while proposing that art lies in the viewer's reception of a proposition made by the artist at a specific place and time. Obrist conceived his experimental symposia with a similar sensibility -- which makes sense, since he is of the same generation and matured in the same intellectual milieu -- but when "theanyspacewhatever" turned out to be so undemanding that it was largely written off by many as a bore, one wonders what the artists will have to say about the marathon's punishing spatial and temporal parameters -- respectively ...
Now that progress is as predictable as an automatic software update or higher resolution in a camera phone, the idea that technological advancement holds the key to a better future -- and the fear that it could be abused as a tool of world domination -- seem like quaint relics of the 1950s and '60s. Lisi Raskin's exaggeratedly ragged, hand-crafted reconstructions of military command centers evoke the thrall such spaces held over the public imagination during the Cold War even as they reinforce the contemporary viewer's distance from that feeling of awe. Over the past year, Raskin's installations on this topic have surfaced in several locations as stages of an ongoing project titled Mobile Observation. This year's incarnations began with Command and Control, an installation at the Park Avenue Armory in February, and continued with Mobile Observation (Transmitting and Receiving) Station at Bard College's Hessel Museum of Art, for which she embarked on a road trip to military sites across the United States and sent back materials to be exhibited. Mobile Observation will peak on Friday with Tipping Point, a performance at the opening of "Soft Manipulation" at Casino Luxembourg, where the resulting carnage will remain on view through the exhibition's run. Here Raskin, who works at studios in Brooklyn and Oakland, California, discusses her newest work and how it represents a change in her perception of Cold War mythology.