New acquisition: Guards kissing by Tino Sehgal


Tino Sehgal was born in London in 1976 and currently lives and works in Berlin. On 2012 he undertook the annual commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with the work These Associations, becoming the thirteenth to be commissioned in The Unilever Series. Tino also participated in Documenta 13 Art Festival with the piece This Variation held at Kassel, Germany. He represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 2005 and has been nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize 2006 and the Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst 2007. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held around the world, including at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Villa Reale, Milan; Kunsthaus Bregenz; and the ICA, London.

This recent acquisition explores the situation triggered by a pair of guards kissing every time a visitor comes in the exhibition venue. It could be a male and a female, two males, two females, etc. Like all of Sehgal’s work, he seeks to sort of interact uniquely with the visitors, as each of them will take home a different emotion or idea emerged from the situation. One of the main characteristics on Sehgal´s body of work is the ‘no documentation’: there cannot exist any video footage or photographic registration of these artificial situations. The criterion also affects the transaction method, as there is no such a thing as an invoice or a written prove about the piece being purchased. It happens as a colloquial transfer of rights, where the artist and the buyer bring some witnesses that can declare at some point the actual existence of the deal.

It was October 11, 2012, that Javier Lumbreras showed up at the Turbine Hall inside Tate Modern, where this meeting was about to take place. He immediately found himself immersed in Tino Sehgal’s piece These Associations. After a while, Tino approached Javier and started talking. Soon after they moved to a small conference room in the same building. The transaction was about to start. Stefano and Raffaella Sciarretta (Nomas Foundation, Rome), Maurizio Morra Greco (Private Collector, Naples) and Sabine Breitwieser (MoMA) were some of the witnesses. It was indeed a colloquial chat among everyone present. Tino led all the conversation, ending with the actual transfer of rights of Guards Kissing. Certainly a unique experience for all the involved.

Another version of this piece is owned by The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.