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Tino Sehgal ignites the Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech

 

Forget everything you know about contemporary art. With Tino Sehgal there are no material objects or traces of his work (photographic or video)… only happenings to experience. Visitors to the Jemaa el-Fna square get ready for an intense adventure.

The Jemaa-el-Fna square, Marrakesh, in the middle of the day.

 

 

 

ART OF RUMOURS

 

With Tino Sehgal, and this can never be emphasised enough, it’s about the art of rumours. Prohibiting all recordings of his work (photographic and video) the Berlin based artist feeds not only the mystery surrounding his oeuvre, but propagates a studied rumour through oral or written stories on the subject. Tino Sehgal deliberately reigns in the unlimited visibility of our era, a time when concerts are viewed through smartphones and the instantly shared image is more vital that the real-life experience. He reactivates a pre-modern way of living when stories were told without being filmed, where culture was just not physical objects bought and sold on an insatiable art market. His art, which he calls “situations”, is formed through carefully choreographed moments combining songs and dance, movement through space or simple words. Having been shown in the greatest establishments on the planet his oeuvre was awarded a Lion d’or at the 2013 Venice Biennale. 

Tino Sehgal photographed at the Jemaa-el-Fna square in May 2016.

Photo: Khalil Nemmaoui.

 

 

 

A “HALQA” TO THE BEAT OF THE SQUARE

 

Invited to the Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech until June 5th by curator Mouna Mekouar, whose boundless energy everyone agrees is responsible for this exceptional project, Tino Sehgal offers a unique experience to the world from 11am in the morning to nightfall. With his troupe, the artist deploys his own "halqa", one of those ancestral circles (featuring everything from snake charmers to story-tellers) that have always peopled this historic Marrakesh square, earning it UNESCO heritage status. At the heart of this special halqa, the only one to be composed of non-Moroccans, Tino Sehgal has his troupe performing a powerful medley of choreography readapted for the occasion. From morning onwards dancers move like snakes within the BAM, the building dedicated to art next door to Jemaa el-Fna. It's a hypnotising and fascinating spectacle. 

 

At a dinner with Tino Sehgal in the Jemaa-el-Fna square following the first day, song and dance are improvised at the table.

 

 

A MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

 

Then following the rhythm of Jemma el-Fna itself, coming alive and slowing down throughout the day, the troupe proposes different situations each one more enthusiastic than the next, before concluding the day as night falls in a performing circle. And this apotheosis is grandiose. The troupe come together for a session of voodoo incantations or an ancient choir, in dances punctuated by their own voices (onomatopoeic words are spoken alongside Rihanna lyrics) and literally set the venue ablaze. The Moroccan public ebb and flow around the troupe taking part in the experience themselves. Everyone dances, sings, bursts in applause, moving with their own steps.

 

 

The Jemaa-el-Fna square just before dusk. 

 

 

 

RECREATING THE COLLECTIVE, EXCHANGING, THE ART OF SHARING

 

Tino Sehgal’s ‘halqa’ appears as an organic body in constant mutation, fully integrated within its environment. A veiled woman comes face to face with the artist to exchange a mystical gesture, teenagers experiment with hip-hop battles, masters of other halqas on the square pass by to bless that of Tino Sehgal… The artist offers a journey through time, like one we rarely see. A fusion of traditional Moroccan tradition with western modernity, classical choreography and street dance, an elder dressed in traditional garb and young girls in skirts. The artist has succeeded in recreating an ephemeral collective, just for a day, a night a month. A veritable communion of senses, emotions and sensations... 

 

 

Place Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech, from May 13th to June 5th, 11.00 to nightfall (except Mondays)  

Tino Sehgal is represented by the Galerie Marian Goodman.

 

By Thibaut Wychowanok

 

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