Tino Sehgal Kiss 2003

  • Not on view

Encountering Tino Sehgal’s Kiss, viewers may be surprised to see out in the open what normally takes place in privacy: a man and woman on the floor locked in sensual embraces and kisses. Dressed in street clothes, they move in tandem. With slow, balletic motions, they continually shift positions: now lying side-by-side, hugging, now standing on their knees and kissing, their arms tightly wrapped around each other, now seated, the woman partially on the man’s lap, her arm hooked around his neck as he pulls her body towards him and kisses her. But this is not simply amorous exhibitionism. It is, rather, a tightly choreographed presentation by professionally trained dancers, who worked with Sehgal to learn and enact this particular work of art, or, as the artist calls all of his pieces, this “constructed situation.”

Sehgal titled Kiss after Auguste Rodin’s sculpture of passionately kissing lovers, The Kiss (1901–04). He modeled its choreography after this and other well known kisses and embraces depicted in sculpture and painting throughout art history, by artists ranging from Constantin Brancusi to Jeff Koons. In his piece, he transforms the enduring, static forms and images depicted in these more traditional artistic mediums into two bodies in motion, and into a living, immediate, and, ultimately, impermanent experience.

Since the early 2000s, Sehgal has been making art that incorporates himself and other people—who he calls “players” or “interpreters”—into staged scenarios orchestrated around movement, singing, or conversation among the players themselves and with viewers. His approach is informed by his training in dance and economic theory, and by his belief that our current system of mass-production and -consumption is both environmentally and socially unsustainable. Through his ephemeral, intangible art, he aims to model a different value system, one based on human energy, actions, and social encounters, and the memories of engaging in these experiences.

Medium
Constructed situation
Dimensions
Dimensions variable
Credit
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
Object number
592.2008
Department
Media and Performance
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