Tino Sehgal: This Situation
This Situation, an installation by the acclaimed British-German artist Tino Sehgal, offers visitors a unique and constantly evolving live experience that radically expands ideas of what art can be. Sehgal creates works that are constructed situations which question the traditional subject-object relationship of visual art. He takes language, singing, dancing, and other modes of behavior as his artistic material, often generating immersive artworks that are felt more than they are seen. Interaction between the visitor and the work takes a central position, and focus is placed on ephemeral gestures and the nuances of the audience’s experience, rather than any material objects. In Sehgal’s works, “interpreters” act out various episodes that may comprise conversation or choreography, often involving the visitors.
This Situation, originally created in 2007, enables a conversation that throws into question our self-image as a society and our roles as individuals within that society. Six interpreters enact a discussion in the form of a contemporary salon. They cultivate the visitors’ participation in the dialogue that follows, helping to generate a conversational practice that is continually renewed and potentially endless
The London-born, Berlin-based artist studied dance and economics, and is interested in the idea of visual art as a component and a microcosm of larger economic systems. Sehgal’s work reflects on art’s position vis-à-vis the production and circulation of commodities. He reconsiders and disrupts art’s participation in this system by creating artistic meaning and value with ephemeral interactions and situations instead of physical objects. Extending these ideas, he does not allow his work to be documented through photography, film, or video, which might themselves transform the time-based experience into an object and a potential commodity. Yet far from pretending that his art exists in an escapist world exempt from economic exchange, the artist does allow his works to be bought and sold, and they may be reenacted in various sites and under disparate conditions. Walking this fine line, Sehgal creates the possibility of a reevaluation of art’s relationship to economic necessities and helps generate new ways of thinking about how art produces value and meaning. Perhaps most importantly, his work produces a new kind of viewer. As Claire Barliant and Nat Trotman have written, with Sehgal’s art, “a visitor is no longer only a passive spectator, but one who bears a responsibility to shape and, at times, to contribute to the actual realization of the piece.” The audience’s experience of a work by Sehgal is necessarily extremely personal and subjective, and it may change dramatically with successive visits.
Tino Sehgal’s work has appeared at the Guggenheim Museum (2010); and the Tate Turbine Hall (2011) in London. Other solo presentations have included the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2004); Fundao Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2005); Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (all 2006); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2006–07); MMK Frankfurt (2007); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2007); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2007–12); Trussardi Foundation, Villa Reale, Milan; Magasin 3, Stockholm Konsthall (both 2008); Musee d'Art Contemporain de Montreal; IMMA, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (both 2013); Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil (both 2014); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015–16); and the Fondation Beyeler (2017). He won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Tino Sehgal: This Situation is part of Living Together, curated by Rina Carvajal, MOAD’s Executive Director and Chief Curator, and independent curator Joseph R. Wolin. Living Together is made possible by the generous support of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council.