Tino Sehgal on the Western Industrial Age

According to the artist Tino Sehgal, we are living in the Western Industrial Age. Its conceit is simple: the busier you are, the higher your status in society

In an age of digital distraction and increasing acceleration, striking a balance between productivity and leisure has never been harder. As part of Fondation Beyeler and UBS’s Artist Talks, Sehgal is in conversation with Sam Keller, Director, and Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at the Fondation Beyeler, about his 2013 work ‘Would you rather feel too busy or not busy enough?’. Here, he discusses the importance of stopping to consider the physical and spiritual implications of such busyness, and the social values a Capitalist society powered by industry creates. Sehgal believes we have forgotten the qualities that much older societies were built on, such as contemplation, tranquility and introspection. His art work is a response to these lost tenets, a unique performance-experience that exists only in the encounter itself, leaving no material traces behind. There are no reproductions or catalogues as it lives momentarily, vanishing immediately afterwards.

As snapshots in time, Artist Talks are a particular kind of document providing an insight into artists’ motivation and their often surprising attitudes towards their work. They illustrate how artists address the themes that are of central importance to the process of artistic creativity and are an opportunity to experience contemporary artists in person, gaining first-hand insights into their way of working.

Tino Sehgal is a British–German artist, based in Berlin, who describes his work as “constructed situations”. He has had a number of solo shows at prestigious art museums around the world and was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2006.

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