Collective Gallery, Edinburgh
7 December 2013 - 26 January 2014
Review by Jaime Marie Davis
Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby’s exhibition at Collective Gallery in Edinburgh weaves yet another web of artistic and economic interplay. Titled ‘Anti-VWAP’, the show is a response to a previous show, ‘VWAP’ (value weight average price) at CCA Derry-Londonderry. Both projects were originally inspired by the 18th-century alchemist August Nordenskiöld, commissioned by Gustav III to turn base metals into gold in an effort to fund the Swedish army against the Russians. However, Nordenskiöld’s true intention was to make his Magnum Opus common knowledge, thus leveling the market.
Goldin+Senneby with Rob Drummond (playwright), Philip Grant (anthropologist and former equity fund manager), Donald MacKenzie (sociologist), Anna Heymowska (set designer), and Ybodon (computer scientist) have claimed to utilise the gallery infrastructure supporting exhibitions to develop an algorithmic trading model to be tested in the market, and a speculative script. The exhibition text explains that the work gives itself over to the mysterious forces of capital that it simultaneously stages in the gallery.
At the entrance to the space is a plinth containing a portfolio with the concealed algorithmic trading model under a Plexiglas casing. Little visual symbolism exists in the show, apart from a fulcrum bearing the weight of a loaded arm on the cover of the folder with the emblem of resistance and effort missing. Additionally, a large reserve of glistening, packaged water bottles used in each performance sits within the gallery as a substantial sculptural object.
Before entering the exhibition, visitors are handed a script titled ‘Momentum (2013)’, performed by an actor along with a narrator from the audience. This allegorical work relates life’s inevitable forces of momentum and inertia as Grant McKenzie, a financial trader cum fitness-instructor, plays out a 5-step cardio programme from a warm-up to active resting. Throughout the text, McKenzie encourages the audience to drink the water, reminding them that constant replenishment is necessary as it is impossible to rely on one’s own reserves. He recounts various methods of beating the forces of momentum, from the inert yet vulnerable Mako shark’s ability to keep water flowing through its gills, to Indonesian monks whose life quest is to control their heart rate.
Finally, the exhibition’s exponent reveals a meritorious strategy he has developed, Human Momentum, in which he funds students based on the upward propulsion of their grades before reaching university, thus creating a reserve network of potential from various sectors and the likely conversion of future favours. McKenzie soon realizes that there is one major flaw in the strategy, which is that he never actually meets them and their funding is based purely on statistics rather than human interaction.
With the concealed algorithm and enigmatic text, the exhibition is a matter of course for Goldin+Senneby, who are known for their signature series of set ups designed to question modes of production and speculation. Again, in ‘Anti-VWAP’, the idea of the body as a material or resource is used to illustrate parallels of an experience economy in the art world and its equivalent markets.