Tino Sehgal and his seven rituals
The enigmatic performances of the artist of German-British descent will be shown in two museums in Moscow
17 June, 2017
The State Museum of Architecture will host another version of Kiss.
Sehgal prefers to describe his performances as “situations” or even “rituals”.
Starting from 1 August, the Tretyakov Gallery and the State Museum of Architecture in Moscow will present emblematic performances by artist of German-British descent Tino Sehgal, who does not allow his art to be documented. He makes preserving art virtually impossible. Why? His performance, enacted not by Sehgal himself but by his designated “interpreters”, is designed to leave no material trace - no photos, no footage or statements for the press - just a memory. This requirement was even included in the Tate acquisition agreements - the sale of This is Propaganda in 2005 meant that the performance was only and entirely enacted. The artist, the buyer, the lawyer and the notary are all present, the only product are the memories created. So, This is Propaganda (involves a gallery guard singing “This is propaganda, you know, you know; this is propaganda” and then announcing verbally “Tino Sehgal, This is propaganda, 2002”) exists solely in one’s mind.
The recipient of the Golden Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale prefers to describe his performances as “situations” or even “rituals”. The programme in Moscow features seven rituals. Four of them will take place in the halls of the New Tretyakov Gallery. In Kiss, performers enact kisses made famous by artworks created by various artists from Auguste Rodin to Jeff Koons; in another performance an actor is lying and moving slowly on the floor, periodically freezing in positions evoking works by Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham. The other two titles are This is Propaganda and This is New. The Ruins wing of the State Museum of Architecture will host another version of Kiss in addition to the performances This Variation and This Progress. They will be shown at stages, once every three weeks, until 14 September. The starring role in each show is that of the viewer, whose response is envisioned to be the substance of Sehgal’s artwork.
Tino Sehgal studied at Humboldt University in Berlin and Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen where he read political economics and dance. He started out as a choreographer and later transitioned to other areas of art. His “situations” transpire at major art festivals and leading museums around the world - the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Tate Modern in London, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as well as the Berlin, Shanghai and Venice biennales and Documenta. Three years ago, he set Agora outdoors. In the show philosophers lure unsuspecting tourists to Ancient Greek ruins and launch into Socratic debates. A similar premise is employed in Progress at the Guggenheim - visitors climb stairs while having a philosophical conversation about progress. Along the way they are accompanied first by a child, then a youth, an adult man and finally an old man.