This week at The L Magazine I discuss Tino Sehgal’s exhibition at The Guggenheim. Here’s what I thought.
I can’t get over the feeling that I wrecked my enjoyment of Tino Sehgal’s This Progress at the Guggenheim by thinking about it too much. I know writing such things makes me sound anti-intellectual, but seeing as how I went from genuinely liking the piece to leaving angry, there might be some substance behind these worries.
Now entirely emptied of its contents save for visitors, Sehgal’s exhibition at the Guggenheim consists of two pieces: The Kiss, a performance in which two people make out in slow motion in the rotunda space, and This Progress, an experiential work that takes place on the ramps of the museum. There’s a little too much this-is-a-really-important-kiss-because-it’s-deliberate-art feel to the former, but Sehgal’s primary piece boasts a few more memorable moments. The most enjoyable part of The Kiss was witnessing a one-year-old baby frantically crawling toward the performers as though it wanted to participate. A parent intervened, and that was the end of that.
The show’s centerpiece, This Progress, begins at the foot the museum’s rotunda with a small girl asking your definition of progress, and ends with at the top of the ramp with a middle-aged person talking abstractly about the concept. In short, volunteers discussing the idea of progress guide a visitor’s entire walk through the museum. The physical representation of this idea seemed rather elegant as I walked up the ramp with my tour guide, though that assessment only held true so long as I didn’t think about it at great length. It is, after all, an awfully simplistic representation of a complex idea.
Read the full piece here.