Standard Length of a Miracle
with Pamela Carter (Playwright), CargoCultist (Systems Architect), Anna Heymowska (Set Designer), Johan Hjerpe (Graphic Designer), Malin Nilsson (Magician)
“The standard length of a miracle is around 15 seconds” says the Swedish magician Malin Nilsson. She hosts the opening night evening of the new project by Stockholm-based artist duo Goldin+Senneby “Standard Length of a Miracle”. The so called northern hall of the CAC is containing the specially built theatrical set for the “lecture on magic”. While performing a whole set of tricks on her audience she deconstructs the notion of magic. “For me, magic means using logical thinking to find little gaps in human perception and exploit them” she reveals. An exploitation of gaps of human perception seems to be the main strategy of the whole project orchestration.
Many different characters and stories come together in the latest development of Goldin+Senneby’s project “The Nordenskiöld Model”. Not all of them are going to be revealed, however, as gaps, openings, and shadowy figures, ghost-writers, tricksters, etc. are necessarily conditions and players for any speculation, be it conceptual, financial, linguistic or magical, to take place.
Let’s introduce some of the characters and their stories, apparently in chronological order.
The story of a rabbit you’ll meet in the exhibition was started by Mary Toft (1701–1763). Mary was an English woman who became the subject of considerable controversy when she tricked doctors into believing that she had given birth to rabbits. When Mary finally admitted the fraud street entertainers and magicians started to produce rabbits in their acts as a contemporary reference their audiences would understand.
In 1780’s a Finnish alchemist, August Nordenskiöld (1754—1792), was secretly employed by Swedish king Gustav III to find the Philosopher’s Stone, in order to create gold to pay for Sweden’s war against Russia. However, Nordenskiöld tricked the king as his mission was different – his idea was to find the philosopher’s stone and make so much gold that he could flood the market, making it worthless and so liberate men from the tyranny of money.
Horace Goldin (1873—1939), once a resident of Vilnius, popularised the “woman sawed in half” illusion. He was the first magician ever to patent his magic trick. Patenting “Sawing a woman in half” gave him legal right to an exclusive monopoly on his invention for 17 years and thus made it easier for him to prevent other magicians from using his methods. However patents require inventors to reveal the workings of their inventions, which meant Goldin could no longer keep his method completely secret and lost all the fame and the profit from the patented invention.
CargoCultist is an anonymous systems architect, a programmer and a hacker. After her doctoral studies at MIT CargoCultist worked for a California based hedgefund developing and implementing their algorithmic trading strategies. After she got bored by the ease of this activity CargoCultist decided to reverse engineer a bank. This is when artist duo Goldin+Senneby contacted her. Together they were plotting to set up their own speculative instrument to operate on the financial markets according to a model developed by utopian alchemist August Nordenskiöld.
Many different stories about speculations, magic and construction of value unite this unlikely set of characters. At the same time the main subject of the show stays unmentioned. That which constitutes and unites all the mentioned and unmentioned characters and stories. As language is considered not only to be the instrument to describe facts but also to create them, in a world in which institutions like money, property, technologies, work, are all linguistic institutions that become instruments of production of those same real facts. If “facts are created by speaking them”, as claimed by economist Christian Marazzi, isn’t it language itself, full of gaps in human perception, that is exploited and transformed into a set of magic acts?”
/ Valentinas Klimasauskas