by Maria LindDecember 22, 2016
Maria Lind in conversation with Goldin+Senneby: An Opera
(Libretto Adapted by Pamela Carter)(1)
Maria Lind — Mezzo-Soprano
Goldin — Tenor
Senneby — Baritone
Security Manager — Soprano
Staff and Visitors — Chorus
Elephant — Non-singing
The lobby of the Financial Supervisory Authority, Stockholm.
3 p.m., November 23, 2016.
Artists Goldin and Senneby are waiting for curator Maria Lind, with whom they have agreed to record a conversation for art-agenda. Earlier in the year, Lind curated “Standard Length of a Miracle,” a retrospective of their work staged in different locations across Stockholm.(2)
Goldin holds a large package. Senneby sets up recording equipment.
Visitors and staff come and go.
Elephant sits alone by the street entrance.
Hej hej hej
Hej hej hej hej hej
Shall we start with a question?
Let’s start with the bribe.
And what do you want in return?
It’s not a simple balance of payments
In the gift economy.
Is it long-term emotional debt?
(Lind unwraps her gift)
This is the Financial Supervisory Authority.
It’s a state agency
Promoting stability, efficiency
Ensuring our financial protection.
It’s a map
Of the retrospective we produced together.
It was your idea to stage all of our older works
In outside locations.
I wanted to activate your older works
Have them resonate in relation
To particular settings.
We hosted a Goldin and Senneby artwork here.
We hosted their audiences here.
You have a history
Of strong curatorial framing
Which comes as a consequence
Of the artistic practice.
Which grew from a concern
That the work of many artists
Doesn’t lend itself
To a classical retrospective.
Because a work relates more to external contexts
Than to a previous or subsequent work
By the same artist.
I was very happy
How the locations played out for us.
The way places and people working in these places
Embraced the projects
Made them their own
Exceeded my expectations.
But what are they doing back here?
Do they have an appointment?
What question would you like to consider?
We’re less question-focused.
Let’s think about this question of context then.
How it has shaped your way of thinking.
It’s hard to see
It’s hard to know
It’s why we avoid the question
I’m not so interested in
It’s hard to be reflective.
Our work has been
About globalization, about financialization.
A networked sphere,
A networked economy.
So we’re not so interested in
In this part of the world)
It’s more about
Access to networks
Good internet connection)
(‘This part of the world’ in a general sense)
But now you bring it up
Looking at my own background
Before I turned to art
(Artistically, Sweden is peripheral)
Working with the internet
Working with that language
Working with that mindset or idea
Of how to shape a society that uses these communicative tools.
When I turned to art, that was my main concern.
And when I started doing art
I didn’t want to do it alone
I wanted to do it with other people.
This is a society that puts a lot of resources
Into structure, production
I don’t know if that comes from my background
It’s hard to be reflective.
What about you, Maria?
I am only possible as a phenomenon in Sweden.
As a woman
Brought up knowing you can do what anyone else can do.
I am indebted to the ideology of the 1960s and ‘70s,
Free tuition and good student loans.
We acknowledge our privileged positions.
But that doesn’t mean
I’m not ambivalent towards the system.
The status quo is never to be trusted.
Public institutions like this
Are here to be used.
But we want to know
What are they doing here?
Change doesn’t happen by itself
So better you step in
Try to effect change yourself
Life is as fun as you make it.
But this is
The Financial Supervisory Authority.
Sitting here in this lobby
Makes us think
How our work and yours
Has intersected over the years.(3)
Staying with an artist
Over a number of years
Is inspirational to me
You involve many different people in your work
You’re promiscuous in your collaborations.
I’m not sure we collaborate with anyone but each other.
You ‘work together with.’
We ‘work together with’
We let people act as themselves
Within a framework we have defined.
If the stage we provide functions
It distributes as much agency as possible.
The more our agents can use their full capabilities
And still be legible within our framework
The more productive it is for us.
We very rarely work with other artists.
It’s interesting for us when a relation takes on a life of its own
When we’re pulled into someone else’s mind or problem or anger.
Take Howard Bilton(4)
We tried to make him a prop in our project
But then he wanted a voice in our work.
You set balls rolling.
We set balls rolling.
That’s distribution of agency.
It’s about producing these relations
Not about fixing meanings or messages.
Is there one ball you’re particularly fond of?
That’s hard to say(5)
Some balls have evolved
Take Angus Cameron(6)
He’s an actor within our work
And our work appears as a trope in his.
(Security Manager approaches them)
Hej hej hej
Hej hej hej hej hej
We’ve met before.
We met in the spring.
We had a show here in the spring.
We thought we might be nice to sit here
And talk about the show
But you don’t have an appointment
You didn’t call to inform us.
In the spring
The Head of Communications
Told us this is public space
She underlined, this side of the security gates
Is public space.
We are a government agency, yes.
But it’s not appropriate for anyone to come here, have meetings.
If you’d called ahead, we’d have said ‘super’
Can we stay to finish our conversation?
Ok. But next time
We need notification.
Yes, of course.
We’re sorry, so sorry.
(Security Manager leaves)
Bye bye bye bye
They’re just talking?
Is that all they’re doing?
We were talking about
Balls. Balls rolling.
Does how we work with others
Compare to your work as curator?
But not thematized.
But I agree
The way to do it
Is with other people.
It’s quite boring otherwise.
Right now I’m closer to grassroots organizing
More interested in how art sits in society
Its negotiations and communications.
We don’t think about us
Producing work for an audience.
I think we are first already each other’s audience.
We think we are much more of a sect-like organization.
We bribe people
To get involved.
We think there are different levels of engagement.
There are people we employ directly
Who are on the payroll.
There are people who are implicated
Whether they want it or not.
There are people who produce relationships in turn
Have their own understanding of the work.
That’s how we think
The work lives in the world.
Which is why we’re concerned
About this kind of conversation.
We’re cautious not to close down
Not to impose
A final voice.
You know we’re supposed
To talk about process.
When does a ball roll?
This is to do with
Accumulation or critical mass
Or longer and dispersed.
A scientific definition of criticality
When something transforms through external
And internal forces
It is very situational.
Can we talk about process?
For us the process is the work.
Why won’t they talk about the process?
The narrative around our work
Shouldn’t come from us.
But it doesn’t have to exclude you.(7)
No but we’re alert to what can go wrong.
I understand the problem
But switching to
The Elephant …
(Everyone turns to look at Elephant)
Where did the Elephant come from?
Who let the Elephant in?
Who is responsible for the Elephant?
Our previous work
Let’s say, “Headless”
Has turned its eye on neoliberal networks
On the hidden and not so hidden
Practices of neoliberalism.
Let’s say our practice has been read
And to a certain extent ourselves
As related to
A certain time-period marked by
Financialization and globalization.
And let’s say now
There’s a very strong case
Against financialization and globalization
(Elephant walks slowly across the lobby towards the security gate)
A new conservative right-wing movement.
A fascist, anti-liberal, nationalist movement.
And for us
It’s become urgent
To think about
What our work can do
In a totally new context.
(Elephant walks through the security gates and disappears into the Agency)
What is the Elephant up to?
Does the Elephant have an appointment?
(1) I have been employed by G+S since 2010, initially as a playwright and now as a librettist.
(2) Click here to download “Standard Length of a Miracle: A Guide.”
(3) Goldin+Senneby’s project “Headless” had its first public moment during a Iaspis residency in 2007, when Lind was the director. “Headless” would later become central to Lind’s thinking on abstraction and her research project “Abstract Possible” (2010-2012). The novel Headless was co-published with Tensta konsthall in 2015, and in the 2016 retrospective the Financial Supervisory Authority was the site of a “Headless”-related installation.
(4) Founder and Chairman of The Sovereign Group, the offshore management company which registered Headless Ltd, the focus of G+S’s long-lasting project of the same name.
(5) I feel disappointed not to have been mentioned here.
(6) Cameron, a political economist, has been spokesperson for G+S on “Headless” since 2008.
(7) Initially, G+S had suggested that Lind might speak to three of their “employees” rather than talk with them directly. However Lind was concerned that talking with emissaries might not be so interesting.
- 1Goldin+Senneby, The Decapitation of Money, with Angus Cameron (economic geographer), K.D. (fictional author), Anna Heymowska (set designer), Johan Hjerpe (graphic designer), Kerwin Rolland (sound designer), 2010. Installed at Tensta konsthall at Financial Supervisory Authority, Stockholm, 2016. All images courtesy of the artists. Photo by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
- 2Goldin+Senneby, Standard Length of a Miracle, with Jonas Hassen Khemiri (author), Behnaz Aram (costume designer), Moa Ott (carpenter), Samir Al-Nehlaoui (arborist), 2016. View of performance by Hamadi Khemiri (actor) at Tensta konsthall, 2016. Photo by Hanna Ukura
- 3Goldin+Senneby, Standard Length of a Miracle: Process Map, with Johan Hjerpe (graphic designer), 2016.
- 4Goldin+Senneby, Banca Rotta with Anna Heymowska (set designer), 2012. Installed at Tensta konsthall, Stockholm School of Economics, 2016. Photo by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
- 5Goldin+Senneby, On a Long Enough Time Line the Survival Rate for Everyone Drops to Zero with Malin Nilsson (magician), Théo Bourgeron (sociologist of finance), Tapio Viitasaari (pianist), 2015. View of performance at Tensta konsthall at Cirkus Cirkör, Stockholm, 2016. Photo by Hanna Ukura.
- 6Goldin+Senneby, Public reading of Looking for Headless by fictional author K.D., 2007. View of performance at Royal Art Academy Library, Stockholm, 2007. Photo by Emma Kihl.
- 7Goldin+Senneby, The Decapitation of Money, a walk in the Marly forest with Angus Cameron, spokesperson of Goldin+Senneby, 2010. Commissioned by Kadist Art Foundation, Paris. Photo by Emilie Villez.
- 8Office of Howard Bilton, The Sovereign Group, Hong Kong, 2009. Photo by Myke Cheng.
- 9"Who Makes and Owns Your Work," 2006-2007. Multipart event in Stockholm on sharing, distribution and intellectual property, initiated by Marysia Lewandowska, Goldin+Senneby, and Maria Lind.
- 10Goldin+Senneby, Headless. From the Public Record with Angus Cameron (economic geographer), K.D. (fictional author), Kim Einarsson (curator/writer), Anna Heymowska (set designer), Marcus Lindeen (director), Eva Rexed (actor), 2009. Installed at Index, Stockholm, 2009.
- 11Goldin+Senneby, The Discreet Charm, with Pamela Carter (playwright), Ismail Ertürk (cultural economist), Anna Heymowska (set designer), Hamadi Khemiri (actor), 2011. View of performance at Generali Foundation, Vienna 2012. Photo by Wolfgang Thaler.
- 12View of Tensta konsthall at Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, 2016. Photo by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
- 13Goldin+Senneby, Money will be like dross with Kunstgiesserei (material research), 2012. Installation view: Tensta konsthall at The Third Swedish National Pension Fund, Stockholm, 2016. Photo by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
- 14Goldin+Senneby, Anders Reuterswärd with Jonas Hassen Khemiri (author), Behnaz Aram (costume designer), LiLaRo (tailors), Mehrdad Arta (graphic designer), Zhala (musician), 2016. View of store at Tensta konsthall at A Day’s March. Photo by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.