It's kind of odd to think of museums buying works by the British-born, Berlin-based artist, Tino Sehgal. Sehgal, who has a background in both modern dance and economics, insists that no written documents change hands between himself and institutions where his work is staged.
Sehgal considers the art world's museums and galleries a microcosm of our Western economic reality, which he views as overly focused on the production of material objects. His works therefore use the human body and social interaction as their only materials. When it comes to selling the art, a verbal contact seals the acquisition- a contract that also has to be used if the gallery, museum or private collector wishes to sell his work on. The Canadian Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal recently struck such a deal, and from today, visitors can see and interact with the works.
Of the two pieces, The Kiss (2002) is the older. It involves two Sehgal trained "interpreters" kissing. Many commentators compare it to more traditional works depicting the kiss - from the Rodin sculpture through to the Klimt painting - while others note the awkwardness of such public displays of affection. The second work, This Situation (2007) is a bilingual version of Sehgal's highly intellectual piece, wherein his players discuss a selection of thought-provoking quotations on the nature of aesthetics and material wealth, selected by Sehgal.
Visitors can interact with both works as they see fit, though don't try to photograph either piece, or buy a commemorative mug afterwards. As with all of Sehgal's works, no video or photographic documentation is allowed, nor any printed promotional material, and there won't be any programme or any gift-shop items for sale either. This Situation is also on display at Dublin's Irish Museum of Modern Art, from 12 April - 24 May.
For more on the Canadian staging of Sehgal's works, go here. For the Dublin event, go here. For a better understanding of his place within the art world, consider our Defining Contemporary Art book, which distils 25 years of creative production into 200 pivotal artworks.