(Libretto Adapted by Pamela Carter)11
I have been employed by G+S since 2010, initially as a playwright and now as a librettist.

Cast

Maria Lind — Mezzo-Soprano Goldin — Tenor Senneby — Baritone Security Manager — Soprano Staff and Visitors — Chorus Elephant — Non-singing

Scene

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.22
Click here to download "Standard Length of a Miracle: A Guide."

Goldin holds a large package. Senneby sets up recording equipment.

Visitors and staff come and go.

Elephant sits alone by the street entrance.

Lind enters.

Lind/Goldin/Senneby

Hej hej Hej hej hej Hej hej hej hej hej

Lind

So. Shall we start with a question?

Goldin/Senneby

Let’s start with the bribe.

Lind

Ha. And what do you want in return?

Goldin/Senneby

Maria, It’s not a simple balance of payments In the gift economy.

Lind

Is it long-term emotional debt?

(Lind unwraps her gift)

Chorus

This is the Financial Supervisory Authority. It’s a state agency Promoting stability, efficiency Ensuring our financial protection.

Goldin/Senneby

It’s a map

Lind

Beautiful.

Goldin/Senneby

Of the retrospective we produced together. It was your idea to stage all of our older works In outside locations.

Lind

I wanted to activate your older works Have them resonate in relation To particular settings.

Chorus

In spring We hosted a Goldin and Senneby artwork here. We hosted their audiences here. We remember.

Goldin/Senneby

You have a history Of strong curatorial framing Which comes as a consequence Of the artistic practice.

Lind

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.

Goldin/Senneby

I was very happy How the locations played out for us.

Lind

The way places and people working in these places Embraced the projects Made them their own Exceeded my expectations.

Chorus

But what are they doing back here? Do they have an appointment?

Lind

What question would you like to consider?

Goldin/Senneby

We’re less question-focused.

Lind

Let’s think about this question of context then. Sweden. How it has shaped your way of thinking.

Goldin/Senneby

It’s hard to see It’s hard to know It’s why we avoid the question I’m not so interested in Identitarian It’s hard to be reflective.

(Lind

Not identitarian)

Goldin/Senneby

Our work has been About globalization, about financialization. A networked sphere, A networked economy. So we’re not so interested in Identitarian

(Lind

In this part of the world)

Goldin/Senneby

It’s more about Distribution Dislocation.

(Lind

Access to networks Good internet connection)

Goldin/Senneby

Sure. Absolutely. (‘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.

Chorus

This is a society that puts a lot of resources Into structure, production And organization.

Goldin/Senneby

I don’t know if that comes from my background It’s hard to be reflective. Maria What about you, Maria?

Lind

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.

Lind/Goldin/Senneby

We acknowledge our privileged positions.

Lind

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.

Chorus

But we want to know What are they doing here?

Lind

Change doesn’t happen by itself So better you step in Try to effect change yourself Life is as fun as you make it.

Chorus

But this is The Financial Supervisory Authority.

Goldin/Senneby

Sitting here in this lobby Makes us think How our work and yours Has intersected over the years.33
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.

Lind

Staying with an artist Or question Over a number of years Is inspirational to me You involve many different people in your work You’re promiscuous in your collaborations.

Goldin/Senneby

I’m not sure we collaborate with anyone but each other.

Lind

You ‘work together with.’

Goldin/Senneby

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. Never. Maybe. 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 Bilton44
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.
We tried to make him a prop in our project But then he wanted a voice in our work.

Lind

You set balls rolling.

Goldin/Senneby

We set balls rolling. That’s distribution of agency. It’s about producing these relations Not about fixing meanings or messages.

Lind

Is there one ball you’re particularly fond of?

Goldin/Senneby

Hmmm. Hmmmmm. That’s hard to say55
I feel disappointed not to have been mentioned here.
Some balls have evolved Into substantial… Take Angus Cameron66
Cameron, a political economist, has been spokesperson for G+S on “Headless” since 2008.
He’s an actor within our work And our work appears as a trope in his.

(Security Manager approaches them)

Security Manager/Lind/Goldin/Senneby

Hej hej Hej hej hej Hej hej hej hej hej

Security Manager

We’ve met before. Yes

Goldin/Senneby

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 About art.

Security Manager

Yes But you don’t have an appointment You didn’t call to inform us.

Goldin/Senneby

In the spring The Head of Communications Told us this is public space She underlined, this side of the security gates Is public space.

Security Manager

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’ But

Goldin/Senneby

Can we stay to finish our conversation?

Security Manager

Ok. But next time We need notification.

Goldin/Senneby

Yes, of course. We’re sorry, so sorry.

(Security Manager leaves)

Lind/Goldin/Senneby/Security Manager

Bye bye bye bye Bye bye

Chorus

They’re just talking? About art? Is that all they’re doing?

Lind

We were talking about Balls. Balls rolling.

Goldin/Senneby

Does how we work with others Compare to your work as curator?

Lind

Similar. 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.

Goldin/Senneby

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 We’re cautious About this kind of conversation. We’re cautious not to close down (Short-circuit) Not to impose A final voice.

Lind

You know we’re supposed To talk about process.

Goldin/Senneby

For you When does a ball roll?

Lind

Ok. This is to do with Accumulation or critical mass Over time Short, intensive 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?

Goldin/Senneby

For us the process is the work.

Lind

Partly, yes.

Chorus

Why won’t they talk about the process?

Goldin/Senneby

The narrative around our work Shouldn’t come from us.

Lind

But it doesn’t have to exclude you.77
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.

Goldin/Senneby

No but we’re alert to what can go wrong. Switching to I understand the problem But switching to The Elephant …

(Everyone turns to look at Elephant)

Chorus

Where did the Elephant come from? Who let the Elephant in? Who is responsible for the Elephant?

Goldin/Senneby

Our previous work Let’s say, “Headless” Has turned its eye on neoliberal networks

(Elephant stands)

On the hidden and not so hidden Practices of neoliberalism. Let’s say our practice has been read By others 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)

Coming from 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)

Lind/Goldin/Senneby/Chorus

The Elephant What is the Elephant up to? Does the Elephant have an appointment?

The End