News — 29 Jan 2019

Visitor favourite This variation by Tino Sehgal on view once more at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

This variation by Tino Sehgal (1976) will be re-enacted from 4 February to 3 March 2019. It is one of Sehgal’s most extensive and complex works. The piece was performed at the Stedelijk in 2015 during the artist’s year-long retrospective A year at the Stedelijk: Tino Sehgal, when the purchased work was our visitors’ absolute favourite. Reason enough to perform This variation again, now that it has joined the Stedelijk holdings.

For Sehgal, an artwork is a live encounter between artwork and viewer. The artist does not make objects—he creates ‘situations’ within the museum space, in which the interpreters (among them dancers) carry out specific actions. These encounters offer the viewer a wholly unique experience of live artwork. 

One of the greatest pleasures during the Sehgal retrospective in 2015 was to walk through the galleries every day, and experience how members of the public react to Sehgal’s ‘situations’. It was always different. I look forward to seeing this again in February, particularly with this expansive work, which unites all aspects of Sehgal's oeuvre.

— Curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen

This variation is performed in a completely darkened room on the ground floor, where visitors are immersed in a space in which a large group of interpreters transform the gallery into an ever-changing and astonishingly sensual landscape. By constantly varying in form and by directing the focus of the visitors through sound, movement, speech and singing, the senses are sharpened and the boundary between the spectator and interpreter fades away.

Tino Sehgal (1976) originally studied political economics and dance, but opted for the visual arts in 2000. He achieved international renown for his ground-breaking, experimental work presented at the Venice Biennale, the Documenta in Kassel, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Tate Modern in London. The Stedelijk has worked with Sehgal from the outset of his career, presenting his work in 2004, 2006 and 2015. In 2005, the museum bought Sehgal’s first piece: Instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things (2000). This variation was added to the collection at the end of 2017.

Sehgal’s oeuvre is exceptional for its immateriality: his work exists and is experienced only in the moment, and is not documented in any way. There are no captions or wall texts, nor is his work filmed or documented photographically. The pieces are transferred orally, during one-to-one interactions, even in the case of a museum purchase. With this, the artist influences the way in which the museum (or the private individual) collects art and acts as a mediator of art. Sehgal raises questions about what makes a work of art a work of art; about the artwork as an object of value, intellectual property, originality, social processes and the role of the maker and the viewer.

The Stedelijk was able to purchase This variation (2012), originally created for Documenta 13 in 2012, with the generous support of the Mondrian Fonds, and the Curator Circle and the International Collector Circle of the Stedelijk Museum.

In 2017, the Dutch section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) awarded the Stedelijk Museum the prestigious first-place award for the 2015 survey exhibition A year at the Stedelijk: Tino Sehgal.