acting up

The Art of the Spontaneous Encounter

TinoSehgal_Gruppe_1 Ausstellung Tino Sehgal, Interpreten, Juni 2015 © Mathias Völzke
Celebrating in song and movement.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German British artist Tino Sehgal is once again pushing at the boundaries of what it means to go see a piece of art.

  • Facts


    • Tino Sehgal won the prestigious Golden Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
    • His work echoes that of German artist Joseph Beuys.
    • His exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin runs until August 8.
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This is art as an experience. In the atrium of the Martin Gropius Bau, one of Berlin’s loveliest galleries, singers line the wall, sending a-cappella music up to the domed glass ceiling and around the walls.

Other singers come in, breaking up the harmony of the original singers. Now there are fast changes of pitch, screams and jarring notes. They leave, and the sound once again is calm.

This is the latest work by Tino Sehgal, the British-German artist who won the prestigious Golden Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and is now directing his first major solo exhibition in Berlin.

Mr. Sehgal uses human bodies and their mostly slow-motion movements, their voices and changing positions to create “intangible” works that appeal to both emotion and intellect in a piece that will be on show until August 8.

The spirit of Germany’s Joseph Beuys, who widely explored the link between movement and art, can be detected in the room. In Mr. Sehgal’s exhibition, characters recite philosophical tenets and draw visitors into the discussion. This work is all about exchange, interaction and induction.

The visitor is integrated into the work while also being made aware of the the virtuality of the act of art.

He also makes use of darkness, the way he did in his last exhibition at the Documenta art festival in Kassel, Germany, in 2012. In Berlin, different sounds and voices also wash around the visitors as they advance uneasily until they gradually gain their sight.

Mr. Sehgal called his work “Situations.” He directs the actors, dancers, and singers in a perpetual motion.

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