Goldin+Senneby / Insurgency of Life

Insurgency of Life

Illustration: Johan Hjerpe for Goldin+Senneby

Insurgency of Life
December 6, 2019–February 8, 2020, 6:30pm
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002

e-flux is very pleased to present Insurgency of LifeGoldin+Senneby’s first solo exhibition in the US opening on Friday, December 6 at 6:30pm.

With Anna Heymowska (set designer), Hans Hertz (x-ray physicist), Johan Hjerpe (graphic designer), Ross McBee (biologist), Craig Trester (mycologist), Zhala (musician), Lego Pedometer Cheating Machine (sourced from YouTube)

Respondent: Brian Kuan Wood

Curated by Maria Lind

You remember it as a stressful period.
You had started a new job and your relationship was out of balance. Your partner had left for France and communication was difficult. You travelled to Paris so you could talk.
Your left foot went stiff.
Part of your abdomen went stiff, just around the solar plexus.
Actually maybe more numb than stiff.
The kind of numb, tingling sensation that you can have when your arm falls asleep. The pins and needles sensation. For a moment you can’t locate your arm. You can’t move it.
Only this time the moment of numbness, of paresthesia, was extended. It went on too long. Your foot was numb. Your solar plexus was numb. And it wouldn’t go away.
You assumed it was psychological. Related to stress. The emotional stress of your crumbling relationship.

Insurgency of Life is a retrospective of sorts. A retrospective of a condition. And of dependencies and relationships. Rather than exhibiting a collection of existing artworks, Goldin+Senneby have drawn on bodily experiences from the fifteen years that they have worked together, experiences that have shaped both their artistic and life decisions while remaining largely invisible in their artistic output. These experiences concern living with an autoimmune condition—multiple sclerosis or MS—and what that has meant for their joint subjectivity. The exhibition is also a retrospective of an evolving network of collaborators and collaborations the artists’ work has always depended upon.

In the gallery, a fountain for cultivating fungi is surrounded by ten Lego robots, each continuously thrusting a mobile phone. Both the fungi and the phone-shaking robots are part of a complex set of dependencies—an open system of care and extraction.

The Lego robots are “DIY pedometer cheating machines.” Built using YouTube tutorials posted by patients, the robots continuously trick their smartphone step counter into meeting activity quotas required by insurance companies seeking to harvest patient data.

The fungus cultivated in the gallery grows on nutritional agar, but in the wild it lives off cicadas. The spores attach to the cicadas underground, colonize the nymphs, overwhelm them, and eventually sprout out of their heads like miniature cauliflowers. For centuries this fungus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an eternal youth nostrum. More recently, its active substance has been patented by the pharmaceutical multinational Novartis as the first pill to treat MS.

Around the time of the exhibition, Apple is set to launch a new health research platform with the slogan “The future of health research is you!” But as any patient in a medical trial knows, it’s never about you. “You” are only the anonymous host of a condition, and this condition is the real subject of study and potential commercialization.

It is often said that you become what you eat. But as you swallow the pill, you are unsure if you are becoming more like the fungi of eternal youth, or indeed, the cicada whose head is about to sprout.

Opening and artist talk
Friday, December 6, 2019 at e-flux; opening 6:30pm; artist talk 7:00pm

“Insurgency of Life” in e-flux journal
Writer and e-flux journal editor Brian Kuan Wood was invited to respond to Goldin+Senneby’s practice over the past fifteen years. His text “Insurgency of Life,” due to be published in e-flux journal, was the starting point for this exhibition.

“Crying Pine Tree” at Triple Canopy
On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 7pm, Goldin+Senneby are staging an offsite event related to a forthcoming novel developed in collaboration with the author Katie Kitamura. The event will be hosted by Triple Canopy on 264 Canal Street. More information on the event at

Goldin+Senneby is a Stockholm-based artist subject. Since 2004 their work has explored the structural correspondence between conceptual art and finance capital, drawn to its (il)logical conclusions. Recent works include a ghostwritten detective novel about an offshore company on the Bahamas (2007-2015), a magic trick for the financial markets (2016) and a proposal for an eternal employment at a train station (2026-). Currently their practice is mutating: Drawing on bodily experiences of an autoimmune disease, they are staging a fiction with an ”autoimmune tree” as the main protagonist.

Maria Lind is a curator, writer, and educator based in Stockholm and Berlin. She was the director of Stockholm’s Tensta konsthall 2011-18, the artistic director of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, the director of the graduate program, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2008-2010), and director of Iaspis in Stockholm (2005-2007). From 2002-2004 she was the director of Kunstverein München and in 1998, co-curator of Europe’s itinerant biennial, Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg. In 2015 she curated Future Light for the first Vienna Biennial, and in 2019 she co-curated the Art Encounters Biennial in Timisoara. She has taught widely since the early 1990s, including as professor of artistic research at the Art Academy in Oslo 2015-18. She has contributed widely to newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and other publications. She is the 2009 recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement. In 2010 Selected Maria Lind Writing was published by Sternberg Press, and Seven Years: The Rematerialization Art has just been published.

This exhibition is made possible with support from Iaspis and The Swedish Research Council.

For press inquiries and more information contact


Maria Lind is a curator, writer, and educator based in Stockholm and Berlin. She was the director of Stockholm’s Tensta konsthall 2011–18, the artistic director of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, the director of the graduate program, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2008–10), and director of Iaspis in Stockholm (2005–07). She has taught widely since the early 1990s, including as professor of artistic research at the Art Academy in Oslo 2015–18, and is currently a lecturer at Konstfack’s CuratorLab.

Brian Kuan Wood is an editor of e-flux journal.

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