Friday, April 26, 2013

Tino Sehgal at IMMA

Boiled Newspapers at IMMA
On my way to the John Doherty (Taylor Galleries) and Patrick O'Reilly (Oliver Sears Gallery) openings yesterday I dropped into IMMA to check out what was happening.  On the ground floor there was some mild bemusement provided by Kirsten Pieroth who came up with notion of boiling newspapers (The New York Times on various dates) and bottling the resulting liquid.  Why bother I thought.  I suppose it's an improvement on the canned shit that Italian artist did.

I knew Tino Sehgal's show was somewhere but the signage in IMMA wasn't revealing much.  Having exhausted the dubious delights of the ground floor I followed a sign for Further Exhibitions pointing upstairs.  I toiled up to the 3rd floor where an attractive blonde woman with an American accent pointed me in the right direction and added a caution about using cameras or recorders.  There were sounds of a discussion coming from a door to my left so I walked in to a bright airy room with seven people spread around the perimeter in a variety of poses. A couple were standing, a couple sitting, and one kind of lying.  As they talked the non-talkers would occasionally essay vaguely balletic poses  with their hands, or take up new positions in an elaborately stylised manner.  One of the seven I determined after a short while was a fellow punter.  His discomfited look said it all.  A few moments after I arrived the whole troupe rose up, made some kind of group exhalation and chorused "welcome", they then changed positions and began a discussion on a new topic.  The topics included the role of Zen Bhuddism in the modern world, the predjudice against physical labour, and the decline in employment brought about by automation.  Each of those involved (3 men and 3 women) seemed fluent and at ease with whatever subject arose.  Marx was quoted and a wide range of literary and cultural references were thrown in.  All of the troupe were of mature years, the youngest perhaps 35 and the oldest around 55.  They looked like comfortable minor academics except for one girl who could have been an art gallery assistant and was the least vocal.  The accents were mixed, some Irish some American.

There was little engagement with the small audience although at one stage one of the troupe admired a pair of blue shoes worn by one of our number. I stayed for about 30 minutes but didn't find an opportunity to engage mainly because I hadn't a strong opinion on any of the subjects.  Speaking afterwards to the American woman on the door I gathered that they welcome involvement and will deviate from their script when the occasion presents itself.  She told me that Sehgal likes to keep things low key - hence the absence of signage.  He relies on word of mouth and social media to get people in and doesn't relish crowds.  He absents himself as well. I found the whole experience engaging in a weird way.  The topics were interesting and the intimacy of the encounter lent them an immediacy that drew you in.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon..