Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tino Sehgal at the Guggenheim

There have been a couple of interesting articles in the New York Times about artist Tino Sehgal recently. The latest focuses on his solo exhibition, “Tino Sehgal,” on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through March 10.

Visitors to the Guggenheim will first encounter “Kiss,” a living sculpture that involves two figures entwined in an embrace while lying in the middle of the ground floor of the rotunda. “Kiss” is on loan from MoMA.

Sehgal’s other work at the Guggenheim is “This Progress,” made up of a series of encounters and interactions with people serving as interpreters who approach visitors and engage them in conversations about progress.

Sehgal does not allow his works to be photographed or documented in any way. There are no labels, descriptions or catalogues produced for his works, and there are only start dates, no openings, for his exhibitions.

These restrictions may seem odd, but they derive from Sehgal’s belief that the world has too many things. The article states that:

His goal is to create a counter-model: to make something (a situation) from virtually nothing (actions, words) and then let that something disappear, leaving no potential marketable trace.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, it is harder for the artist to ensure this sense of impermanence, a point made blatantly obvious by the photograph of “Kiss” on the New York Times’ Web site, taken with a visitor’s phone.

These restrictions might lead one to believe that Sehgal’s works have no commercial value, but that would be incorrect. He does sell his works; the process is just a bit more complicated. Because he allows no documentation, the contract must be conducted orally with the presence of a witness. During the transaction, the work for sale is described, as well as the rights of the buyer to install the work under the artist’s supervision. Owners of a Sehgal must still adhere to his restrictions once a work is in their possession. If resold, it must be done under the same conditions, and the ban on any form of documentation still stands. If this ban is violated, the work’s authenticity is compromised.

For a more in-depth look at Tino Sehgal, be sure to check out this article as well.

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