Tino Sehgal’s Turbine Hall commission: ‘Attention is what I work with’

He's put children asking difficult questions into galleries, and lovers kissing. Now artist Tino Sehgal plans to revolutionise Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.

Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_07 Jul. 23 10.39Tino Sehgal is no ordinary interviewee. Tall, tousled, quick of speech and almost professorial in manner, the Anglo-German artist resists the general rule of the interview: that it's about the journalist harvesting maximum information from the subject. Instead, and somewhat disconcertingly, he wants us to have an actual conversation. Having been tipped off that I trained as a classicist, I can hardly get him out of the ancient world: he speculates on speech versus writing in Socrates and Plato, the politics of the act of prostration in Procopius, and the Latin derivation of the word religion.

At one point, as we sit talking in the cafe atTate Modern, I incline my head ironically and he starts talking about the decline of bowing and kneeling in western culture. A single word can set the 36-year-old artist off on a tangent: when I say “fetish”, he starts unpicking the whole concept. “I am for fetishisation!” he announces. “All of us have our favourite things and they speak to us.” Born in Britain and raised in Germany, Sehgal speaks fluent but heavily accented English.

This kind of conversational discursiveness is a key to Sehgal's work. The precise nature of the piece he is preparing for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall will remain, as with all past Unilever commissions, a secret until the moment of its unveiling next week.

More here. [The show opens today.]