If Tino Sehgal and curator David Moos have their way, you'll never ever see a photograph of what is likely the most interesting and, for some, the most provocative piece in the spring-summer exhibition schedule at the Art Gallery of Ontario announced Tuesday.
The piece is called Kiss and it was conceived by the Berlin-based Sehgal in 2002.
Sehgal is what you might call an "ephemeralist" or an "immaterialist," and Kiss - or at least the AGO edition - only exists in a specific space (on the fourth floor of the AGO's contemporary art tower) and for a specific time (during opening hours over the next six weeks, beginning tomorrow).
The work takes place in two-hour time slots and consists of a heterosexual couple - trained dancers or actors, dressed in street clothes, seven pairs in all - ever-so-slowly and sinuously enacting some of the art world's most famous kisses.
In the AGO instance, embraces will include those by Constantin Brancusi, Auguste Rodin, Jeff Koons and Gustav Klimt.
Moos, as the AGO's curator of contemporary art, arranged to buy an edition of Sehgal's Kiss in November 2004, eventually putting it on display in August 2006.
As with other purchasers of Kiss (and they include the Art Institute of Chicago and New York's Museum of Modern Art), the AGO has agreed not to provide any sort of photographic record of the piece; the actual seeing must be the believing.
Another edition of Kiss, lent by MoMA, is currently running at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan as part of a larger Sehgal show.
This exhibitionistic exhibition is part of Sculpture as Time: Major Works. New Acquisitions, a gathering of more than 30 contemporary pieces by Canadian, U.S. , European and Asian artists, that runs until Aug. 1.
"It's about new definitions of sculpture," Moos said in an interview yesterday. "Not so much what sculpture is but what sculpture can be."
Joining the sculpture presentation on the spring-summer roster are two other shows: This You Call Civilization?, the first major public exhibition of collage-based works by Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based Wangechi Mutu, and Palmsonntag (Palm Sunday), a mammoth, site-specific installation by the highly influential post-Second World War German artist Anselm Kiefer.