Thursday, 30 August 2012
"These associations" -- I've been Tino-ed
As we were walking towards the ticket desk to get our tickets, down in the lower level, I suddenly sensed, without really seeing it, a kind of collective movement. There was no extra noise, but a definite sense of intention. People were striding down the slope towards the Turbine Hall. Quite a lot of people. I felt excited -- 'Is it a flash mob?' I hissed at D. I was very much hoping that all these marching people were going to break into song. Even an impromptu performance of 'Thriller' would have thrilled me.
Still watching to see what might happen, we went to stand in the ticket line. Just then a woman of about my own age came up to me and launched into an account of how her grandmother had given her a purple suede mini-skirt forty years ago and how it had empowered her. She stood right in front of me and stared into my eyes. It was very disconcerting to be addressed at random in this way and held captive by the narrative. I felt an incredible sense of obligation, that, as always, I should be polite and listen. But at the same time it wasn't a normal interaction. I didn't know what it was but I tried to signal to D to catch it on film. I think I mouthed 'Film it!' at her, but was too polite to speak over the woman. By now she was saying that she had recently given the purple mini-skirt to her own daughter or granddaughter (not sure which -- it was hard to take it all in as I was too busy trying to process what sort of incident I was now part of). D didn't film it!
The woman came to the end of her story and wheeled away, joining the marchers again. By now they had been up and down the length of the building a few times and were running round in circles, following a leader, I think. Who the leader was was hard to work out.
Later on, at home, I discovered that it had been the first day of the latest Turbine Hall 'installation'. The group of people (or similar groups) will be marching and running and telling stories to people every day until October 28th. I had a particularly intense experience of this 'artwork', which is titled 'These associations' and devised by Anglo-German artist Tino Sehgal, because I knew nothing about it beforehand and had to find a way to respond to it whilst immersed in it. It was quite provocative, but not really as 'dangerous' as the Director of Tate Modern has proclaimed it: "the most complex, difficult and dangerous project we have ever put into this museum". One is taken by surprise, discomfited, possibly entertained, but not threatened or even asked to do anything other than look and, possibly, listen. I felt I would have liked to be part of the group, marching down the slope and back again, running round. I started to think about what stories I would have told people. Maybe that's enough.
Reviews have started to appear: Guardian, Telegraph.
Holiday report parts 2 and 3 will follow soon.