Tino Sehgal is so contemporary

Berlin artist Tino Sehgal brings a unique and immersive contemporary art experience to AGNSW.
Tino Sehgal is so contemporary

Berlin contemporary artist Tino Sehgal

Internationally acclaimed artist Tino Sehgal will bring his unique and innovative style to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) in upcoming exhibition This is so contemporary.

‘It’s a piece which was last exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale,’ said Macushla Robinson, Assistant Curator of Contemporary International Art.

‘Like all of Tino’s works, it’s very live and engaging, and about establishing a relationship within the gallery space between visitors who may not expect what is happening, and the engaged body of interpreters.’

London born, Berlin based Sehgal is renowned for producing constructed situations and is regarded by the contemporary art community to be at the cutting edge of contemporary art practice.

His exhibitions take a fresh approach to gallery spaces and demand a new way of engaging with art.

With previous shows at the Guggenheim, New York and the Tate Modern, London in 2013, Sehgal most recently opened the 13 Rooms project in Sydney as a presentation by the Kaldor Public Art Projects.

Robinson said that this is so contemporary will be the 29th Kaldor Public Art Project. ‘The piece will consists of three people at any one time, who act as interpreters of work whilst on the floor and engage with our regular AGNSW visitors as they enter the exhibition space.’

‘Sehgal’s work is very surprising and it’s very much about the feeling of the person visiting, so it’s quite autonomous in that way,’ she said. 

‘I would hope that from this experience people would be quite excited because it’s quite unusual, it doesn’t follow the format of a traditional exhibition. I would think because there is quite a lot of dancing involved that it would be something quite joyous.’

Sehgal’s earlier work includes Kiss, consisting of two people entwined in a long, slow motion embrace. As the performers gradually moved through various poses, many based on artists from Rodin and Brancusi to Jeff Koons, the work continuously evolved for the duration of its display.

After training in political economics and choreography, Sehgal pioneered a radical yet engaging way of making art. Orchestrating interpersonal encounters through dance, voice and movement as well as philosophical and economic discussion, these works have responded directly to gallery visitors and are renowned for their intimacy and critical reflection upon their environment.

‘Sehgal’s works open our eyes to a radical new way to engage with art, they must be experienced to be fully understood,’ said John Kaldor. ‘I first saw Sehgal’s work Kiss at the Berlin Biennale 2006. I was mesmerised by its power and simple beauty. This is so contemporary is one of my favourite works. It’s joyous and spontaneous, involving and engaging the audience directly.’

Jessica Morgan, Daskalopoulos Curator of International Art, Tate Gallery, London and Director of the 2014 Gwangju Biennale will present a public lecture at the AGNSW, drawing on her experience working with Sehgal and curating his project in Tate’s Unilever Series to discuss his practice and its place within the context of live art. A short Q and A session will follow.

Visitors are advised that the works in This is so contemporary cannot be photographed or filmed.

Bookings are recommended for the free public lecture with Jessica Morgan, which will be presented on Monday 10 February from 1pm to 2pm at the AGNSW.

This is so contemporary runs at the AGNSW from 6 February to the 23 February 2014.

For more information visit the AGNSW website.

Troy Nankervis

Wednesday 5 February, 2014

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis