Tino Seaghal

Paddy Johnson reviews Tino Seaghal's Guggenheim performance work at the L magazine.

Seaghal practices the "relational" style of artwork, which consists of social interactions structured or set in motion by the artist. Seaghal famously doesn't allow photos of his works, which forces oral and written storytelling as a means of transmission but also gins up controversy among professionals accustomed to communicating in part with their cameras.

In this case guides walk visitors up the winding ramp of the emptied-out Guggenheim, and talk to you about your ideas of "progress." The guide at the base of the ramp is a child, and the guides get progressively older as they hand you off from one to the next. The performers ask you questions and pass along your answers to the next guide, but they also interrupt you and give you canned answers to certain questions.

It all sounds terribly artificial, relational in the same way that certain science-based religions and government interrogators use interaction to break down subjects and make them pliable to suggestion. Without museum sanction it could make an intriguing story; with institutional backing it's a web of rules and consensual submissive behavior that is somehow "good for you."

I didn't experience the artwork firsthand: I am being Seaghal's camera and relaying it to you via the oral tradition method.

More comments on Johnson's review.