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The Exquisite Corpse of August Nordenskiöld
Edited by Goldin+Senneby with Kim Einarsson
Contributions by Ronny Ambjörnsson, Mara Lee, Donald MacKenzie, Malin Nilsson, Mary Poovey, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Michael Taussig
“Off now, little paper, around the world, and destroy the tyranny of money, so that gold, silver and precious stones may one day cease to be the idols and tyrants of the world!”
—August Nordenskiöld, 1787
In the ancient art of alchemy, some elements can change to other states of matter while others cannot. At least not without magic. And a touch of trickery. For some time now, Goldin+Senneby have been interested in a utopian alchemist named August Nordenskiöld (1754–1792) who sought to create enough gold from inferior metals to permanently abolish its value, and the tyranny of money with it. But gold is not only money, just as money is not only gold. Gold is a substance, and money is a measure of value—for substances, feelings, ideas—that is open to magical projections, deceits and impurities, faulty counts, stealthy hacks, and hasty cover-ups. In The Exquisite Corpse of August Nordenskiöld, Goldin+Senneby initiate a parallel comedy of interpretation. As in the surrealist parlor game cadavre exquis, each of the book’s seven essays—by a historian of ideas, a sociologist of finance, a literary and cultural historian, a stage magician, an artist, an anthropologist, and a poet, in precisely that order—responds directly to the preceding essay only. What is magic, after all, if not a story line performed in near darkness—with little knowledge of what came before and even less of what will follow?
—Brian Kuan Wood