'Something really nice happened to me the other night. I was sitting at home thinking about my mother, I'd just had a nice dream about her. I found a load of stuff in a cupboard that my brother had given me after she'd died. Digging through it, I found these snapshots from the 1950s and '60s taken by my dad at weekends when I was a little kid. I projected them up on the wall, put on some techno and smoked a few joints for about three hours and it was really great – he was a good photographer. It reminded me of all those good times, of how nice it was before it went horribly wrong.'
That was my first encounter with the latest annual Turbine Hall commission, 'These Associations' by Tino Sehgal. Of course, I wasn't supposed to record the conversation I had with the man who had broken off from the group of people he was charging around the empty concrete space with, but he admitted it was nice to stop running for a bit and catch his breath. Documentation is forbidden of Sehgal's work – no contracts, images or scripts exist to his part-theatre, part-dance, part-confessional situations.
I also took some blurry photos of the actors chatting and circulating, even though the staff scolded me each time. But this is the Turbine Hall – where we've previously sat under a buzzing sun, hidden behind giant mountains of cardboard boxes, walked into a scary black box and slid down giant slides – so everyone is going to take pictures and videos, uploading them on to Flickr and YouTube, whether the artist likes it or not. It seems silly to impose any such limitations on the most wondrous, interactive installation yet staged in the 13 years of the Unilever Series.
The players begin by miming a game of tag around the Turbine Hall, peeling off to tell stories or confide in passers-by. 'I have a phobia about bridges' one older lady tells me and I agree that my own vertigo might be caused by the same internal imbalance she feels. A young girl tells me about the 'slutty kitty' she sees obviously being fed at various houses on her street. I tell her my cat does the school run for affection too. Then they come too thick and fast to respond: there's a fraught trip to Japan, a man complaining about his arm or something, I can't recall. I don't answer back anymore, overwhelmed and elated by these myriad admissions, epiphanies and human possibilities.
At various points the performers coalesce, slowing their gait and converging like cells coagulating or societies forming. They sing, the lights go down and it all starts again. It's the history of the world, of our kind, of technology taking over our systems of communication. Of course, Sehgal has done this kind of audience-participation lark before and he will again, but perhaps not on this scale. This is not his masterpiece, because it belongs to all of us.