Visiting the Edvard Munch exhibition some weeks ago, my fellow visitor and I attempted to walk through the Turbine Hall avoiding a large group of people who were running up and down, across the space being given direction by a tall, thin man in a long, black overcoat. That was, of course, Tino Sehgal, and the runners were, of course, participants in These Associations; the thirteenth Turbine Hall commission.
Of course, it was mighty annoying having to avoid these people, but they were in preparation. These Associations is the safe next step in Sehgal's career. Each participant is tasked with helping visitors to the Turbine Hall. Breaking away from the group, the participants strike up conversations with visitors. Recording and documentation are forbidden, so there nothing - physically - exists in situ, though many column inches have been dedicated to This Progress, a not-dissimilar project undertaken by Sehgal at the Guggenheim, New York, in 2010. It was a resounding critical and commercial success.
Which no doubt leads us to These Associations. My immediate thought was that the project was selected as a way of inviting people into Tate Modern (not that it needs much help) during the Olympics. Londoners are not specifically renowned for their openness. What better than a space where two strangers can strike up a conversation? It seems that the commission is a part of the Cultural Olympiad. Sehgal is, by two years, the youngest artist to take up the Turbine Hall commission (if you look at year of birth, and not age at the time of commission). His closest in age was Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster between 2008-2009, who created a dystopian vision of the hall fifty years hence. It's not really the spirit, is it? No, this is far nicer. Much more our kind of thing.
These Associations by Tino Sehgal is at the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern until 28 October.