Headless

K.d. headless cover 364

Goldin+SennebyK.D.

2014

Artist Novel, 10.67 x 17.78 cm, 348 p, language: English, publisher: Sternberg Press, ISBN: 978-3-95679-026-3.
Materials: Ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2027/64).

Literary sinopsys

When workaday author John Barlow is asked to ghostwrite a novel about secretive tax havens, he assumes the job will be straightforward. Then he learns that his employers, Swedish conceptual artist duo Goldin+Senneby, want him to investigate Headless Ltd, a shadowy company with possible links to French philosopher Georges Bataille, famed for his fixation with human sacrifice. Barlow travels to Nassau, the mecca of offshore finance, to uncover the plot. He is not alone. A beautiful, mysterious woman is also seeking the truth about Headless—and about Barlow. One day the ghostwriter is happily posting to his travel blog; the next he is implicated in the decapitation of a police officer, consumed by the dark world of covert capitalism and secret societies. Barlow’s probing becomes desperate. The more he grasps at the threads of the labyrinthine plot, the closer he comes to madness.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

Headless has been written in the fashion of the mystery novel genre. However, Headless is also the result of an artistic project that follows its own rules. Every time, when a new chapter is finished, there follows a public event: A performance, a guided tour, an exhibition, a secret meeting, and so on. Whatever happens during such event becomes fictionalized and is the material for the next novel’s chapter. And whoever happens to be present at the event might become a new character in the story. The art project functions as writing technique. It is a kind of device that produces the narrative text. This task is usually ascribed to the writer but, in Barlow’s case, it could be said that he is the one with a lesser degree of control. In fact, he is fired by the artists in Chapter Nine, so that it is uncertain to the reader who is ‘at the wheel’ of this project. Like a body without a head, Headless is a machine that advances and creates itself as it marches on.

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