Tino Sehgal (b 1976) is one of the most critically acclaimed artists to have emerged in the past few years, having developed a radical artistic practice that takes the form of live encounters between people.
For his first solo exhibition in New York, Tino Sehgal will show his latest and most ambitious work to date titled This situation, 2007. An attempt at a contemporary form of history painting, This situation—as all of Sehgal’s work—will manifest itself through a group of people operating with a set of oral instructions conceived by the artist, allowing for individual variation. Sehgal describes his works as ‘constructed situations’, whose materials are the human voice, language, movement, and interaction, without the production of physical objects.
What all of Sehgal’s works have in common is that they reside only in the space and time they occupy, and in the memory of the work and its reception. Despite its immaterial character, the artist’s work fulfils the conventions of visual art and functions fully within the infrastructure of the art gallery or museum. The work is present during the entire duration of an exhibition, it enters public and private collections and exists over time by being repeated.
Throughout his work, Sehgal has explored social processes, conventions and the allocation of rules, thereby redefining fundamental parameters, not only of art making but of society at large: materiality, idea, originality, producer, consumer, owner, and value. Trained in political economy and choreography, both fields have played a fundamental role in the development of Sehgal’s artistic practice. He pursued both with the same motivation, namely to investigate the feasibility of alternatives to the understanding of production as the transformation of (natural) resources. As he stated in an interview with Tim Griffin for Artforum: “The reason I’m interested in the transformation of actions. . . is because I think that the appearance of both an excess supply of basic material goods and of mankind’s endangering of the specific disposition of “nature” in which human life seems possible renders the hegemony of the dominant mode of production questionable. Obviously, thi s doesn’t mean to propose an essentialist “No” to material objects in general but rather leads to the question as to how we could produce things that, on the one hand, aren’t problematic and, on the other, are more interesting or complex, or less static.”
Over the years, the artist has worked with a variety of ‘interpreters’, including museum guards, gallery directors, children, singers, and academics. His past works include a person executing a slow, absorbing dance on the floor (“Instead of allowing something to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things”, 2000); a couple engaged in a seamless choreography of more or less iconic kisses (Kiss, 2002); or two children enacting a number of Sehgals’s works and offering them for sale in the booth of The Wrong Gallery at the Frieze art fair (“This is right”, 2003).
Sehgal was born in London in 1976 and currently lives in Berlin. He is the youngest artist to have represented Germany at the Venice Biennale (in 2005, together with Thomas Scheibitz). In 2006, he was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize, and in 2007 for the Preis der Natinalgalerie für Junge Kunst at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum Moderner Kunst, Frankfurt (2007); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2007, 2006, 2005); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006), Kunstverein Hamburg (2006), Serralves Foundation, Porto (2005); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes (2004). His work was included in the 4th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2006, the Tate Triennial of the same year, in Utopia Station at the 50th Venice Biennale (2004), and in numerous group exhibitions at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and ARC Musee d’Art Moderne de la Vil le de Paris, amongst others.
Tino Sehgal will have a solo show at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis opening on 12 December and running until 23 March. Currently, he is exhibiting at the MCA, Chicago and at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco. His work is now also on view in the Lyon Biennial 2007, 00s The History of a Decade that Has Not Yet Been Named, Lyon, France, and in The World as Stage at Tate Modern, London.