Following major exhibitions at TATE Modern in London and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, for the very first time in Denmark Kunsten in Aalborg is presenting a work by the Berlin-based Tino Sehgal. The work, which is donated by the New Carlsberg Foundation, is transferred orally from the artist to the museum. The transfer is legally binding, but there is no written contract. Meanwhile, an extraordinary experience awaits visitors in the here and now.
Usually works of art are more or less physical objects and observed by an audience. But in the case of Tino Sehgal things are different. Without people, there is no work of art. There are no written rules about how a work should be constructed; merely oral transmissions. In his works Tino Sehgal bridges the gap between dance, play, theatre and art and he has won major international recognition for this work.
The title of the work that Kunsten has purchased is This Success or This Failure (2007). It is also the main work in the upcoming exhibition. Art in the form of live art or constructed situations will evolve among visitors to the exhibition and local children, who in small groups will take turns at playing in the museum’s Main Gallery. The meeting will be a surprise for visitors to the museum, because the space will be entirely void of objects. Without people in the space, there is no art and no meaning. But with people - in this case groups of children - new art and new meaning exists in the moment.
“We are proud of the fact that this artist, who really sets the bar for contemporary live art, has chosen to exhibit at Kunsten. The generous support of the New Carlsberg Foundation means we also get to acquire a work, by which visitors, whatever their background, will be moved. That means that we are one of the few museums in the world to have one of his works in their collection,” says the Museum Director, Gitte Ørskou.
Visionary and daring
“Tino Sehgal manages to challenge the concept of the artwork and the museum space like few other artists. The way in which he breaks down the distinction between the work of art and the viewer, thereby involving us directly, is profoundly original, thought-provoking and tantalising. It is both daring and visionary of Kunsten to acquire and present Sehgal’s works, and we at the New Carlsberg Foundation are delighted to be able to foot the bill,” says Karsten Ohrt, Chairman of the New Carlsberg Foundation.
Even though Tino Sehgal has works in some of the most highly respected museums in the world, he is delighted that Kunsten is now adding one of his works to its collection.
“I’m extremely honoured that Kunsten has acquired one of my works, and that it will be shown in the extraordinarily beautiful building by Alvar Aalto. In This Success or This Failure I try to convey a premise for my artistic work. What can we do if we only have ourselves and no things or technology? I know that Kunsten has a strong relationship with the local community and I look forward to learning from their impressive approach to audience engagement and hopefully also contribute to it,” says Tino Sehgal.
The exhibition at Kunsten will consist of a total of four works. The central work, This Success or This Failure (2007) is being acquired for Kunsten’s collection and will be realised in close collaboration with more than 1,000 local children who will take turns at constructing the work. Visitors to the museum will become involved in a playful, anarchistic universe, in which the children will evaluate their experience with the visitors. Was it a success or a failure?
Three other works will also be shown. Together they will provide a broader impression of Tino Sehgal’s relatively small oeuvre: The Kiss (2002), This is Propaganda (2002) and This is New (2003). The works involve dancers, singers, performers and the museum’s hosts.
The exhibition will run for only a short period: from 10 October to 25 November 2018.
About the Artist
Tino Sehgal (b. 1976) lives and works in Berlin. He studied Political Economy, Choreography and Dance at the Humboldt Universitet of Berlin and Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen. When Tino Sehgal represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 2005 he was the youngest artist ever to have done so. He has since had solo exhibitions at major museums and exhibition venues all over the world. These include: the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2010, the latter was the very first museum to acquire the work, This Progress.