Tino Sehgal: Interview with Interpreter

In the Guggenheim’s ongoing Tino Sehgal exhibit, Danielle Dillon BC ’12 acts as an interpreter/questioner/guide  in the interactive piece “This is progress.” For background information, see our previous visit here. CUArts investigates:

So how did you get started?
Barnard put out an email to art history and art majors asking you to be in a conversation piece with this German artist who was pretty popular on the contemporary scene. We interviewed in groups, where Tino asked us, “What is progress?” and he’d ask us to go further with our opinions if we said something he was interested in.

How were rehearsals?

Pretty cool actually, and they usually took place when the Guggenheim was closed, so we were alone with all these Kandinskys. They just went over the structure of the piece, telling us ways to engage people in conversations because it’s not so easy to just talk with a stranger. Like often people ask if the piece is scripted, and I’m like, “Are you scripted?” [Laughs]

What was the first time like?
I remember being really nervous and super high energy because I didn’t really know what was happening. It went really quickly though. I don’t remember what we talked about. And the people who come are just as anxious as to what’s going on.

Did you have a favorite conversation?
Yesterday, I got a guy who just got back from India to expand on his traditional Jewish education. He was wearing bright blue pants and had bright orange powder coming out of his eyebrows. The Holi festival had just happened, when you throw powder on each other. We talked about how interesting it is to purposely change your point of view and to push yourself out of your comfort zone to engage in new experiences and how it can make you very uncomfortable but how it’s very worth it in the end. I guess the ones that stand out are the ones who teach me something.

Ahh, so cool. Do you know why Tino chose to talk about progress specifically?

Well, I know with his work, he does choose a theme, so it definitely can be identified as a Tino Sehgal piece. I don’t now why he chose progress. Everyone has an opinion about it, so everyone could give something from their own experience to talk about. It just fit very well with the space and the demographic that would be coming.

So what’s the one thing you’ll miss?
Definitely all the people. The visitors who come, all the people who are working as interpreters…it’s all generations, all fantastic, all brilliantly interesting people. Just hanging out four times a week at this incredible museum having conversations with people and learning with them. Just the opportunity to talk to others. I’ll definitely miss doing that.

Go see it while you can–the exhibit closes March 10th.


Livia Huang, CC ’12

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