Art world drama! Tino Sehgal calls the New York Times "crass"
Tino Sehgal is mad, mad, mad. The eccentric artist (see our feature on him HERE), the subject of a current show at the Guggenheim, is known for his refusal to allow any photographs of the human-enacted “situations” he creates. Which is why he was dismayed to see covertly taken iPhone photos of his work in Monday’s New York Times.
“I felt kind of disrupted,” he told me on Wednesday night when I asked for his reaction. “And they ran not one but two photos, and one of them really big.”
According to Sehgal, the Times notified the museum on Sunday of their intention to publish the iPhone photos in Monday’s edition of the paper alongside their review of the show. Several higher-ups at the Guggenheim, including Nancy Spector, who curated the Sehgal show, called Times culture editor Jon Landman to plead with him to hold the photos, before Sehgal himself placed a call. Landman wouldn’t budge, arguing, according to Sehgal, that photos of the artist’s work were already available on the internet. (Landman was traveling during the reporting of this post.)
The Berlin-based artist claims that there’s really only one photo of his work online — a surreptitously taken shot that ended up on someone’s Flickr account — and that a legitimate publication had yet to publish an unauthorized photo.
“I am worried that in the future, people will think, ‘Well, the New York Times did it, so we will too.’ Or else they might even think that I gave the Times permission and now I need to give them the same thing.” The paper did not flout only his rules, he says, but the Guggenheim’s as well. Though the review of the exhibit (a generally positive one) makes it seem as though a sign in the museum’s rotunda area forbidding the taking of photographs was placed there for Sehgal’s show, that sign, in fact, is always present.
“The nature of my art aside,” says Sehgal, “for an institution like the Times to go into an institution like the Guggenheim and break their standard rules and then make it public that it did so — it just seems ungentlemanly, very crass.” Stay tuned for more.
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