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Thing of the Day — Tino Sehgal

Inside this temple of objects, I refocus attention to human relations.

Tino Sehgal in response to an interviewer asking him where his intention lies as an artist who shows objectless, undocumented live pieces in museums and galleries.
As quoted in the New York Times Magazine
Sunday, January 17, 2010
“Art That Leaves Behind No Trace” by Arthur Lubow


Laura and I talked once about how we can spend days making meals - her homemade ravioli, my pies - and then it is consumed in minutes. It’s not that cooks and bakers resent the eaters who adore us and our food, it’s just something that points to the ephemeral nature of domestic arts. We cook, and the food is eaten. We clean and the house gets dirty again. Much of domestic work - what is traditionally known as “women’s work” - is unseen and unpaid, in essence, invisible except for brief moments. It was with this in mind that I read this article about the work of artist Tino Sehgal in yesterday’s Sunday New York Times Magazine. Sehgal’s work is meant to leave no trace. It is made from human beings who inhabit a space, interacting with viewers. I saw Sehgal’s “This Situation” when it was at the Marian Goodman Gallery in NYC. I remember thinking that it was brilliant how Sehgal brought up questions about the traditional manner of making art in the form of objects, among other issues. His work is not even documented because he does not believe in filling the world with more objects when there are already so many. Which is not to say that the work is not sold. This is where the controversy comes in. How are fine artists to survive if they are not allowed to make money without their motives being suspect? Is he a P.T. Barnum with a gimmick, as one of my artist friends thinks? Or is he a visionary who sees beyond materiality to the essence of experience and has the courage to provoke a necessary dialogue?

This objectless art composed of living beings seems to say, “Here I am. Soon I will be gone. Be present here in this moment with me - don’t take pictures, don’t videotape it, just be here - or you’ll miss it.” Isn’t this so much what life is about? This also brought up my own feelings about my chosen form of making art - painting. I do believe in paintings since the conversation that artists are having in paint seems hardly finished, and because paintings communicate something about human experience that I find simply cannot be expressed for me any other way. I have a deep longing and love for paintings that is intrinsic to my being. On the other hand, Sehgal has a point, and he has begun a fascinating dialogue. I’m not about to kick all the object-makers out of the room and stop painting myself, but I like having him at the party too. I hope he - and his pieces - keep talking. Sehgal’s work will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum January 29th - March 10th.

see also: Thing of the Day — Chardin

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