Monday, 29 October 2012

Tino at Tate

A while back I wrote a list of all the shit I wanted to do once I had finished writing and updating the book. Some of those things – washing, a pedicure – I have managed, others – the Ai Wei Wei pavilion at the Serpentine and Queen Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery – I failed abysmally to accomplish.

And so damn it if I was going to miss Tino at Tate.

I’d had FIFTEEN weeks to get to Tate to experience the Seghal and to check out The Tanks before they closed for ongoing renovations and even the night before it was odds-on we mightn’t get there. But get there we did – with 24 hours to spare.

Yesterday was a miserable, cold, wet, windy London day – perfect condition for huddling up with strangers in the turbine hall, all equally curious to experience Seghal’s “constructed situation”. These Associations is the first live art commission for the Unilever Series that has previously hosted works by Miroslaw Balka, AiWei Wei, Doris Salcedo, Olafur Eliasson, Tacita Dean, Louise Bourgeois and Rachel Whiteread among others.

Before the commission was announced I’d not really known the work of Seghal, whose performance-based is constructed entirely of live encounters. Before Documenta I hadn’t experienced it either but I’d heard great things about the Tate work, where crowds of volunteer participants have been choreographed to move throughout the hall using movement and sound – and conversation to engage and enmesh the public in the ‘work’.

Tino Seghal, These Associations, Tate Modern,
Unilever Series Commission, 2012
Some friends had been before and they had had performers approach them and strike up intimate conversations. When Lovely Boy and I were there it was like the world’s biggest game of statues was taking place. It was hard to tell the audience from the action but there were perhaps two or three hundred people making there way up the hall, periodically stopping around groups of visitors and freezing for 30-odd seconds. Crouching, leaning in, cossetting you in human sculptural forms, before releasing and moving forward and on to another group. It was strange and equal parts absurd and exhilarating. When we passed through the hall again later on they were chanting and singing and running full pelt from one end to another.

Tino Seghal, These Associations, Tate Modern,
Unilever Series Commission, 2012
I would like to have come back another day and experienced it again because I really appreciate the principles of the work as a work of art – evanescent, emotional, intangible and transforming of space – both architectural and personal. All with a slightly surrealist bent.

It was a clever curatorial companion piece to the The Tanks, the subterranean concrete spaces that have hosted fifteen weeks of film, video and performance art. They were opened up as part of the ongoing building project to expand Tate and I think will be open again permanently later in the year. We didn’t spend hours in here – video art has never been the easiest thing to sell to Lovely Boy and I have a fairly low threshold myself so it’s not the best viewing combination, but the Lis Rhodes work we both liked. Apparently Light Music is apparently the artist’s attempt to address the lack of attention given to women composers in European music. I certainly didn’t get that but I enjoyed the immersive, performative elements of dancing in front of the flickering celluloid projectors and being able to enact your own enormous shadow show.

Lis Rhodes, Light Music, 1975. Re-installed, Tate Tanks, 2012
After a disrespectful 30 minutes blitzing through the William Klein/Daido Moriyama exhibition (yawn) we spent a civilised hour in the members bar soaking up a couple of large glasses of red wine before abandoning Tate for dumplings in Chinatown and coming home to fall asleep on the sofa.

Tino at Tate? Tick.

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