'Social Encounters' In a Series of Outdoor Scenes Comprise Tino Sehgal's Summer Exhibition at Blenheim

  • WOODSTOCK, United Kingdom
  • /
  • June 15, 2021

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View of Blenheim Park and Gardens. Landscaping by Capability Brown. Photo: Aebhric Coleman

Blenheim Art Foundation will present a major solo exhibition by Tino Sehgal, taking place July 9 to August 15, 2021, at the UK's stately Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site and home of the Duke of Marlborough. Following a year of extensive confinement indoors, this will be the first exhibition at Blenheim designed specifically for the Park and Gardens.

Tino Sehgal (b. 1976) is known for artworks composed exclusively using the human body, voice, and social interaction. His artistic practice focuses on the fleeting gestures and subtleties of social encounters, with participation and open exchange as the subjects of value, rather than material objects. For this project, Sehgal will present a complex, roaming choreography imagined for Blenheim, involving more than 30 participants.

Tino Sehgal. Image: Wolfgang Tillmans, 2013.

Conceived as a series of scenes rather than works with fixed locations, the exhibition will move fluidly throughout the Blenheim Park and Gardens like a game of encounters, responding to specific conditions such as the number of visitors, the location or the weather. Akin to a swarm or flock, the group of participants – the majority of whom are local residents cast specially for this project – will gather and disperse in a fluid and porous choreography, enacting moments of connection with visitors and their surroundings.

This relationship of movement to context is informed by the landscape architecture of Capability Brown. The fluid response to specific locations and vistas, and the adaptation to visitors’ movements, will extend the ways in which Brown’s designs were originally inspired by the ‘capability’ of the existing environment and landscape, their innate potential for transformation and elevation. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Marian Goodman Projects.

Among the more recent art exhibitions at Blenheim, Cecily Brown was shown in 2020 and Maurizio Cattelan's work was installed in the palace in 2019, including his infamous ‘America’, a fully-functioning, solid 18-karat gold toilet that served as commentary on the historic constructs of status, wealth and power. That piece was stolen during the exhibition and has not been recovered, amongst a number of recent art crimes at England's castles and estates.

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