The Tate Modern: Live Art

An exploration of the relationship between artist and audience


Two years ago Maria Abramović wowed an array of visitors at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art with her emotionally engaging, 736-hour staring contest, “The Artist Is Present.” This powerful display of human connectivity caused a major shift in the conventional outlook on performance art. Now, at London’s Tate Modern, artist Tino Sehgal is continuing to explore creative interaction with his new live art installation in the museum’s massive Turbine Hall as this year’s annual Unilever commission.

Sehgal’s work lures museum-goers into running around one end of the hall and then the other, as spectators watch from the bridge and balconies above. Whether demonstrating that in our digitally hermitic worlds we still seek tangible interaction or just adding an artistic twist to the stillness of museums, like Abromović’s, his message is as magically engaging to participants as it is to observers. From above, the whirlwind of people running below in random formation feels a little bit like a Van Gogh painting brought to life. Down in the hall, you feel a strange surge of buoyant energy circling around you as people waggishly run by.


Sehgal’s installation is accented by a host of revolving exhibitions on display for 15 weeks in The Tanks, the museum’s underground chambers recently renovated by architects Herzog + de Meuron. An area dedicated to “art in action,” on our visit we wandered into interdisciplinary artist Sung Hwan Kim’s two-room video installation that befuddles you with a two-way mirror, before being even further entranced by Lis Rhodes “Light Music” installation—a work originally conceived in 1975 in which two projectors at either end of the room create a fanning strobe effect as the horizontal shadows fluctuate in size. Standing between them turns you into an active puppet-shadow.

For the full line-up of live art running through the end of October 2012, check out The Tate Modern online.