top of page

Gallery visit: Tino Sehgal & The Ice Cream Museum

Tino Sehgal

Tino Sehgal's These Associations (2012)

Sehgal's works and his idea provided me with a brand new perspective of thinking about the artwork.

“What my work is about is, Can something that is not an inanimate object be considered valuable?”

It was my first time to see an artist just sell the right of performing his works without any physical material. As I read in a report that described his works as "urban legends," people who did not actually enter into the exhibition space may not get an accurate description. Although I can partly understand structures of his works such as his Kiss (2002) and These Associations" (2012), supporting with some videos that the viewers took in the gallery, I still cannot entirely understand them because I was not there. Sehgal's works are very personal, as he described, they are "constructed situations." In my understanding, his works are site-specific experiences, both the project participants and visitors are the elements for constructing the work itself.

Ice Cream Museum

During the gallery visit as well as the small group discussion, I was very interested in the topic of the made-for-Instagram exhibition and the instagrammability of the exhibition. In China, we call those exhibitions that made for or result in wide influence on social media as “Wang Hong Zhan”, which means Internet-famous exhibition. The word “Wang Hong” is an entirely modern language that was first used as a noun, means the Internet celebrity who gains attention through social media. Later on, the meaning of this word expanded; it then became an adjective that can be used to describe anything popular on the Internet, such as foods, clothes and exhibitions. Since the online shopping thrived in China, the merchants usually add the tag of “Wang Hong” to their products for appealing customers. Nonetheless, it gradually turns to a pejorative word because of overuse.

I went to several so-called Internet-famous exhibitions in Shanghai, and there were two types in general. The first type is just like the Ice Cream Museum, entire exhibition was filled with cute statues and patterns; meanwhile, there were lots of spots designed for visitors to take selfies. As for the second type, they were the exhibitions showing famous artists’ works, like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room, Hannes Koch’s Rain Room and Daniel Arsham’s Wall Excavation. As Massimiliano Gioni said, “great installation means having conciseness that can look great in pictures”, these pieces allowed the visitors to take gorgeous pictures easily, they attracted more and more young people to come to visit while taking pictures and post them on the social media.

In my view, the age of Instagram does not only mean this social media causes a tremendous effect on our everyday life, but there are some common factors that many people subconsciously possess nowadays. Temporarily I summarized it as sense of freshness, identity and presence. Jia Jia Fei, Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum of New York, mentioned “Google worldview” in her TED talk. As the people living in the Internet age, in this Google worldview, we know the quickest way of reaching what we want to know. Although it may be unauthorized and incorrect, it allows us to get hundreds and thousands information that we may interest in after we type in the keywords. Our freshness to the new and fancy matter is changing unimaginably quick. Social media plays a significant role in this case because it gives the users a platform to find and build their identity with every tag and keyword they searched. Taking pictures in the exhibitions is a part of the process of showing who you are, what you are doing and even reveals what you like to the mass. Likes and follows from people either you know or do not know indicate the mutual recognizing of your identity. Therefore, your sense of presence has emphasized. I do not think people in any other time care the sense of presence more than we do in the current age. The technology, especially the mobile phone, makes the details of our life can be recorded effortlessly. Using a cell phone to take a picture has become an essential skill just like writing notes and social media become a public diary of showing one’s presence.

Apart from social media and exhibition, another thing that I am interested in is the relationship between the Internet and the museum. During this pandemic, we can see many galleries and museum began to hold online exhibitions, so it would be an intriguing point to research how did these exhibitions show online in the next step.

Mind Map of Gallery Visit


bottom of page