Sunday, 21 October 2012

Tino Sehgal @ the Tate Modern.

Tino Seghal
On Saturday 'S' and I ventured to the Tate Modern to check out Tino Sehgal's much talked about piece, 'The Unilever Series' in the Turbine Hall. For those who have never been to the Tate Modern, the Turbine Hall is a gigantic space (think airplane hanger huge), where artists in the past have exhibited a huge array of work.

You might classify this particular piece as a form of performance art, but for Sehgal, it's yet another opportunity to explore social encounters. On first look, the hall appears empty except for a hundred or so expected museum goers. What one doesn't realize is that some of these people are members of the general public, where as others are actors, contributing to Sehgal's piece. The actors are young and old, and all that distinguishes them (spoiler alert), is their trainers (running shoes).

The piece involves choreographed sound, light, movement, and conversation, but most importantly the human interaction between the actors and the general public.

A running phase.

As they turn their backs and walk away...

Yeah, no idea who that guy was, though twice, he was in our space.

Deep in conversation.
As they sit down and hang out...
It is hard to tell how the actors communicate with each other because the timing is impeccable. All of a sudden they will all change their movement or actions in unison. This might mean running, walking backwards, sitting down on the floor, or invading someone's personal space. It could also mean walking out of the Turbine Hall, engaging in meaningful conversation with members of the public (I was approached by a man who spoke to me for a few minutes about being on borrowed time), or starting a cult like chant. The lights turn on and off at different points, and sometimes all of this is occurring in complete darkness.

We were completely captured by the experience. Initially we got right in there with the actors, then we watched it from the periphery, and eventually from the bridge above. I could have stayed there for hours, as the actions rarely repeated themselves. I may even pop back later this week. The best part is that the Tate is by donation (as are the majority of the London Museums).

If you haven't been, I would totally recommend a visit.

Here's a glimpse at the piece in motion (it's hard to get the full idea because I only really captured a strange chanting bit in this video...but at least you can see some of it in action).

Tino Sehgal (The Unilever Series) from Courtenay Spencer on Vimeo.

If you would like to see it, you need to hurry, as the exhibit closes on October 28th. 

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