Recently an Oak Park middle school banned its students from hugging in the hallways, citing jammed byways and tardiness as an excuse to censor brotherly embraces. Similarly, Tino Seghal’s “Kiss,” a performance piece for two actors sited midway through the MCA’s collection highlights exhibition, expresses how the building block of coupling is a beautiful thing, yet uncomfortably inappropriate when publicly displayed. Perhaps the best element of “Kiss” is not the work itself, but viewers’ reactions to it. The actors kiss, caress and grope each other, while standing and then grinding on the floors—all in slow motion, and almost blending into the crowd of museum visitors. In ten minutes I witnessed viewers try their hardest to ignore these pervs macking in a museum, others exasperated when the kissing got heavy enough to move to the floor, still others with hand covering agape mouth and trying to explain lust unencumbered to their children—it’s just that this performance seems so real, and the best part is: it is. Like the Jeff Wall nightclub photograph in the next room, “Kiss” balances realism with artifice, and voyeurs can gawk with the assurance that it’s alright because it’s art. (Jason Foumberg)
Tino Seghal’s “Kiss” shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art through December 30.