This exhibition, “The Decapitation of Money,” marked the latest installment of a project titled “Looking for Headless,” initiated three years ago by the Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby. Actually, it comprised the epilogue, though one should not thereby assume that “Looking for Headless”—an investigation of the offshore corporation Headless Ltd and its possible cloak-and-dagger correspondence with Georges Bataille’s secret society Acéphale (from a-cephalus, or “headless”), told in part through a novel (in addition to a blog, lectures, interviews, and even rumor)—is complete. For, as the novel’s narrator, John Barlow, asks in a chapter printed in a booklet accompanying an earlier exhibition, “to close what is unopenable . . . is that not a contradiction?” What is unopenable for Barlow is the fiercely guarded world of offshore banking. Similarly hermetic, however, are certain fictions that cannot be exposed to reality because they have already absorbed it. “Looking for Headless” is one of these fictions; modern money, as the economist Angus Cameron argues in an audio work in this exhibition, is another.

“The Decapitation of Money” is both an exhibition and the accompanying publication, in which Barlow again appears. It is penned, like the novel Looking for Headless, by K.D., a former Headless employee. Cameron also features in the pamphlet; he is one of several individuals who figure prominently in the “Headless” project, himself serving for a period as a spokesperson for the artists, who throughout the course of the project have systematically withdrawn from personally appearing in the art world. A recording of a lecture delivered by the economist here played in a dusky back room. It is twenty-five minutes long, but I could have easily sat through two hours as Cameron energetically limned Bataille’s notion of the accursed share in relation to the inception of offshore banking in the Eurodollar trade (a “headless” economy—that is, an antisovereign, virtual, global market of US dollars exchanged outside US jurisdiction).

Accordingly, most of “Looking for Headless” has occurred (way) off-site—in exhibitions, expeditions, and events both real and imaginary in Gibraltar; Nassau, Bahamas; Bergamo, Italy; Leicester, UK; and, in the case of Cameron’s lecture, in France’s Marly Forest, where Acéphale purportedly convened some seventy years ago. What have appeared in exhibition spaces, from gamec in Bergamo, to Index in Stockholm to Nottingham Contemporary in the UK, are meticulously inoffensive interiors such as one finds in conference rooms or on public television interview sets. At the Kadist, chairs and a reception desk were arranged before a photo backdrop depicting the lobby of the BCEN (Commercial Bank of Northern Europe), in which the same furniture appears before a tapestry teeming with Bataillesque imagery. It seems too good to be true, but this is of little matter: It is the nature of “Looking for Headless” to assimilate anything and anyone it touches into fiction. And it is into this excess of intrigues and narratives, this accursed share, that Goldin+Senneby (not unlike Headless Ltd) have withdrawn. The project’s diabolical momentum parallels the offshore market constituting its impenetrable core (as well as that other market based on imaginary value, art). Composed of placeless entities, trading in spectral values and private terms, the work’s headlessness creates a situation in which one can—terrifically, terrifyingly—lose one’s own head.

Joanna Fiduccia