In issue 18 of Triple Canopy, I published “Headless Commercial Thriller,” advertised as such: “Offshore finance, Bataille, xenospace, murder! The unmaking of a mainstream mystery novel.” “Headless Commercial Thriller” is the preface to Headless, a mystery novel by the fictional author K. D., to be published by Triple Canopy as a print and digital book in the coming months. Below is the beginning of the epic essay; as the work relies on images, video, and other layout particulars, please navigate to Triple Canopy to read the rest.
It is clear that the world is purely parodic, in other words, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in a deceptive form.
—Georges Bataille, “The Solar Anus,” 1931
The Anatomy of Headless
In March 2007, the Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby hired a conference room on the seventh floor of an office block in central Stockholm. They had scheduled a meeting with Jamie Wright, an employee of the offshore management firm Sovereign Trust. The room was outfitted with generic Nordic modernist furniture—all natural wood and dark upholstery—and one wall was adorned with black-and-white prints of iconic world capitals. Clusters of bottled water and upturned glasses sat on either side of the table, with blue bowls of candy in the center. Wright showed up a few minutes late, in a rumpled gray suit, having just arrived from London.
“Nice setup,” he said.
“We rent from Regus,” Goldin told him. “They’re international—offices in hundreds of cities, by the hour or day or month. That’s what interests us.”
“Yes, that is interesting,” Wright murmured. He slipped a sheath of papers from a leather document holder. “Just so you know, I’m not carrying any information about you on my person—in case I was stopped at customs.”
The artists nodded approvingly.
“So, what kind of art do you do?” Wright asked.
“Our work is primarily conceptual,” Senneby replied. “Right now we’re developing a project that requires us to establish an offshore company. At this point, we’d prefer not to elaborate on our ultimate ends.”
Wright smiled. “We’re not in the business of asking too many questions.” He proceeded to explain how Sovereign uses surrogate shareholders and directorsto conceal the identities of a client company’s true owners.
“Could we go and visit these shareholders and
directors?” Goldin wondered.
“Yes, you can,” Wright said. “You can visit Sovereign’s offices in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, or the Bahamas.”
“Fantastic.” Senneby was nodding vigorously.
Wright went over practical matters—split equity, guarantors, succession planning—as the artists listened impassively. “It’s very, very important that you don’t sign legal contracts and don’t sign bank accounts,” Wright explained. “We have Kara Donnelly, our client service manager, in Gibraltar. She’s permanently based there. Just contact her by phone, email, fax. She’ll do everything: transfer money to a bank account, get a contract signed, she’ll do all that for you.”
After two and a half hours, Goldin and Senneby were satisfied. No deal was met, but the artists promised to begin work on the necessary paperwork in the coming weeks. Before Wright left, they asked him to pose for a picture.
Wright fumbled for words.
“Part of our research,” Goldin assured him, as he clasped Wright’s shoulder.
“We’re quite looking forward to working with you,”
Senneby said as he snapped a photo with a miniscule digital camera. “Be seeing you.”
Wright inclined his head, grabbed his suitcase, and mumbled goodbye as he exited the conference room and trekked back through the warren of empty cubicles, executive suites, and lounges ringed with microfiber sofas.