the guggenheim exhibition, “interventions in the guggenheim museum” provided many interpretations of how artists and architects would redesign, add to, or take from the central atrium space. in addition to these interpretations, is the work of tino sehgal - which is more of an experiment in experience than a continuation of the tradition of visual exhibitions. instead, the spiral walls of the guggenheim are currently bare, minimizing distractions and increasing the capacity for contemplating the structure itself. however, at the base of the central rotunda, two dancers/performers express a “quasi-sculptural choreographed movement.” this tangled duo do a bit of slow sensual caressing and long smooches. (see image below)
as the viewer progresses up the ramp from the central atrium space, they also transition from studying two subjects to being the studied - from viewing the choreographed experience of the two performers, to literally becoming the subject of the artwork itself.
my experience: a chipper little blond girl came straight up to me and reecepacheco, shook my hand and asked, “what is progress?” guided up the first full rotation of the rotunda with her, i defined it as “the initiatives one takes while working towards a goal.” then she handed me off to another young boy. “does everything have to have a goal?” he asked. “yes,” i said in my defense. “so, is crashing a car during a drivers ed lesson progress?” he asked. “yes, as long as he learns from it.” two more rotations and two more series of questions and conversations later, i reached the pinnacle of the spiral promenade.
it was not until i was at the top that i realized i had missed contemplating the void! ironically, the only time the guggenheim was left empty in effort to encourage visitors to rethink the space, i had abandoned it. i let the questions distract me from what seemed to be the purpose. then i realized that this was the first time i had completely ignored the void. in all my previous visits to the guggenhiem, i always established a dialogue between what was hanging on the walls and the progress i was making up the ramp. having the rare opportunity to experience the museum entirely devoid of all artwork or visual interruptions, it’s hard to believe that i neglected to contemplate the walls or the void.
the little girl’s question now seems appropriate, and so does the boy’s question. the goal was to think critically about the space of the guggemheim, but i was too absorbed defining progress. i became a classic example of progress as it relates to one’s failure to focus when presented with diversions. i clearly was “progressing” through the structure physically, but abandoning my purpose mentally. that is the antithesis of progress. the most prominent advice in architecture and art today is to be in the present.