What is an enigma? : Tino Sehgal investing the Palais de Tokyo
In 2013, Philippe Parenno took possession of the Palais de Tokyo for the first Carte Blanche exhibition of the notorious artistic institution. In this exhibition, the artist gave life to the space by placing objects, curating music and controlling light in order to transform the rooms of the museum in an immersive and poetic world.
Since October 12, it is time for British–German artist, Tino Sehgal, to give life to the 13 000 square meters of the Palais de Tokyo in an exhibition entirely imagined by him. The 40 years old artist, winner of the Lion d’Or at the Venice Biennial in 2013, participated with several artists in his Carte Blanche, including Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Daniel Buren and Isabel Lewis. With them, he created a complete path, using barely any material.
As in most of the artist’s artworks, the focus is put in interaction rather than objects. Therefore, the human body is used as the medium of choice in the major part of the exhibition and space is occupied by performances, staging the actions of over 300 performers.
The performances are constructed with protocols generating planned situations that often use discussion with the visitor as an artistic medium. Emotional sharing is at the very heart of most artworks, stimulating reflexion, even if you’re not a major connoisseur of contemporary art’s theory.
The space of the Palais de Tokyo is used in a surprising way, both visually and emotionally. Through communication, storytelling and transfer of knowledge, we lose our sense of time in the exhibition, and we have no choice but to let ourself merge into a submersive experience, strong in both artistic and human terms.
The artworks are relevant and generate an intimate sense of confidence fostering openness to all participants. As soon as we enter the exhibition, we are confronted to the question : What is an enigma ? It’s the answer to this first interrogation that directs our way in the labyrinth-like space of the Palais. It’s also the same type of process that dictates the rest of the visit in the exhibition, thereby obliging an active participation of anyone integrating the institution. Thereafter, reflexion and questions are still governing our relation to space when we leave the Palais de Tokyo, marked with a rich artistic experience.
Tino Sehgal’s Carte Blanche is, in a way, an ode to sociability. As you exit the space, a striking desire for re-experiencing these privileged moments of communication strongly persists.
Drawings Philippe Parreno
Photography Sophie Colin