Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting paid to get other people to strip: The art school way to work your way through college (Is This Art?)

The other day, in response to this post ranking categories of entertainment by order of importance, reader Petri Dish asked me:
"What are things that's only art for rich people?"
The answer is,


That is a piece of art (?) from Tino Sehgal, a piece (?) that was displayed at the Guggenheim over a weekend in February in 2010.

The description of that art (?), courtesy of DesignPorn, is:

The performance involved two people continually interacting with one another in a fairly sexual, slow-motion dance
A commenter noted that the "piece" was later at another museum, with a full group of people instead of just two people PDA-ing their way through a government grant.

Tino Sehgal works in what he calls "constructed situations," wherein people carry out his instructions to create the possibly-art.

Here is what Newsweek (a/k/a, Poor Man's Vanity Fair) had to say about Tino Sehgal:

Tino Sehgal... simply makes strange things happen in the world, without any records or photos permitted.

[NOTE: Tino/Newsweek are apparently unaware of the many photos of the Guggenheim Drunken Make-Out Session available online].

A collector who "buys" [quotes in original] a Sehgall ... doesn't even get a certificate to prove it: the transaction is conducted in cash, before witnesses, without paperwork to soil its purity.

(At this point, I am wondering whether my imagination was correct, and Tino was attempting to suppress a smirk as he said that to Newsweek?)

In the Newsweek story, two older psychiatrists, the Gensollens, are interviewed about the art (?) they bought from Tino:

The Gensollens "own" [quotes in original] a Sehgal that consists of a museum guard slowly removing every shred of his clothes.
That doesn't exactly explain things. What the Gensollens did was buy, from Tino Sehgal, the idea of having a museum guard "slowly remove every shred of his clothes." They have "exhibited" the idea from time to time by (presumably; the article doesn't come out and say it) having a museum guard slowly remove his clothing, at a museum.

They own that idea.

According to Tino, and the Gensollens.

That's the art (?) they bought.

(At this point, I'm now wondering, if you go to a museum and picture, for whatever personal reasons you have/because you've been drinking, the guard taking off his/her clothing, can the Gensollens sue you?)

Said the Gensollens:

Accumulating fancy goods is absurd. We buy works to talk about them, and to stretch people's notions of what art is.

(At this point, I am wondering: Did they buy the idea of a guard removing his clothing? And if so, doesn't that mean an actual museum guard, not a person hired to portray a museum guard? And if so, did that guard get paid extra for doing that? And if so, too, could Tino Sehgal later sell someone else the idea of a person being paid to imitate a guard taking off his clothes?)

The Lady Gensollen, apparently serious, says that her memory is the medium in which the art is executed, which Newsweek buys into:

then you realize that that's where most art lives, anyway, most of the time.

I found an online pdf of the description for a show put on the Gensollens, including the description of the Sehgal work (?) they bought. Here is that description:

Selling out (2002-2005), presented here for the first time, sees a Center security guard, activated by the presence of the spectator, engaged in doing a strip-tease, right up to full nudity if the latter agrees to the exchange and assumes his or her position as voyeur.

And here is an actual photo of the work:

(At this point, I am wondering: how effective can you be, as a security guard, in stiletto heels?)

And here is The Lady Gensollen, on the piece of "art" she owns that involves a woman far more beautiful than any museum security guard I have ever seen stripping off her clothes:

An idea may not be material, but it's powerful.
Oh, by the way -- I omitted a portion of the Newsweek story earlier, for dramatic impact. Here is the part I omitted:

[Tino Sehgal's works] now run around $100,000.

(At this point, I am wondering if I could sell to people the idea of pretending to be an artist selling ideas to people.)

(You can't copyright ideas, after all.)

(Or stupidity. That is freely available, especially to people with too much money.)

the story, I wondered: Did they hire a speic


Petri Dish said...

God that makes me so mad. I hate all this new age type Its-art-if-I-say-it-is art! It makes it so hard for real artists to be taken seriously. I dont paint anymore because of this. People don't want art they want something novel and weird so they can say to their friends while dining on Loch Ness Monster eggs or Endangered Eagle eggs, "Look at our piece over there. Aren't I impressive. HMM, aren't I??" bLech

Stephen Hayes said...

As a former professional artist I must admit that much of what I created over the years was craft not art. Definitions my vary, but for me art is a way of making a statement about the culture that created it. Painting in oils on canvas and hanging the picture on the wall was once art, but it isn't anymore. The time for that sort of expression, it pains me to say, has passed. I don't like most of the "art" I see today, but there's much in our culture that I don't like. So is it art...hmmm?

I think this topic is interesting and I look forward to reading more. An interesting topic might be: What is the difference between art and craft?