Thai installation artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s relational aesthetic – Studio Banana TV video interview

THAI INSTALLATION ARTIST VIDEO INTERVIEW

We bring you the best bits of Studio Banana TV’s video interview with conceptual Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, revealing the intentions behind the artist’s performance and installation art. Works that seek to connect art and life concentrate on the very act of eating; food is prepared and given out, re-shaping conventional gallery spaces.

Top left and right, installation views of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s 'Untitled 1992 (Free)' (re-created 2007). Above left and right, installation views of 'Untitled 1992 (Free)' and a re-creation of Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1972 piece 'Open House' (2007). Image from nymag.com. Works exhibited at David Zwirner Gallery.

Top left and right: installation views of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s 'Untitled 1992 (Free)' (re-created 2007). Above left and right: installation views of 'Untitled 1992 (Free)' and a re-creation of Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1972 piece 'Open House' (2007). Works exhibited at David Zwirner Gallery. Image from nymag.com.

Click here to watch the full interview with Rirkrit Tiravanija on Studio Banana TV.

Relational aesthetics waken inert gallery space

Currently living and working in and between Chiang Mai, New York and Berlin, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s regular travel and cultural interactions have strongly influenced his art. He is an artist that contemplates social structure and his art capitalises on relational aesthetics. His installations focus on activities rather than object-making, avowing to dissolve the institutional barriers of inert gallery spaces. The spectator’s role ceases to exist as Tiravanija’s performative art diminishes the traditional western boundaries of art viewing.

In his earliest installations, for example, he would set up make-shift kitchens in a gallery space, with a fridge, rice steamers, hot plates, stools and tables included. By offering the food to gallery visitors, the artist attempted to create spaces for socialising and interaction; the public were able to experience art through pleasure and conversation. “[It] wasn’t so much to bring my house into the gallery but more… to look at how to live with art in a sense,” Tiravanija explains.

A call for action

These all-inclusive participatory works enable gallery visitors to become a part of the installation, penetrating the separate public and private spheres and showing that “what you do in the private can also be in a sense public.” Interested in the social role of art, Tiravanija brings people from different backgrounds and cultures together,

I am interested in making a condition or situation where … people have to come and stand next to each other and look at something … and deal with each other. I think it is quite important in the work, for me, that people participate in it or take action in it or are in it…. Of course, there is harmony and there is chaos, and that is very true in an existence in the social structure. 

Having curated a series of works for friends who are also artists, “collaboration” has become an essential part of his practice, providing “a chance for things to happen outside [him]self” and becoming “a way to deal with difference.”

Posters designed for Utopia Station at Venice Biennale in 2003. Image from universes-in-universe.de.

Posters designed for Utopia Station at Venice Biennale in 2003. Image from universes-in-universe.de.

Passion for long-term projects

The Land Project

Rirkrit Tiravanija is co-founder of an sustainable non-profit ecological project in Thailand called The Land Project. Initiated in 1998 by a group of artists and developed on a former rice field, the project aims to support the artistic community and promote sustainability.

Rirkrit Tiravanija's The Land Project (1998-present) is an ongoing substainable art project that aims to promote artistic practice in northern Thailand. Image from vvork.com.

Rirkrit Tiravanija's The Land Project (1998-present) is an ongoing sustainable art project that aims to promote artistic practice in northern Thailand. Image from vvork.com.

Utopia Station

In 2003, Rirkrit Tiravanija was co-curator of Utopia Station, a project created for the 50th Venice Biennale with Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Molly Nesbit. Utopia Station incorporated seminars, meetings, ‘stations’, posters, performances and books. Smaller projects, also a part of Utopia Station, included drawings, small paintings and photographs and were held all over Venice. Close to 160 artists submitted posters that were shown across the city of Venice, adding a further dimension to the participatory piece. In the Banana Studio TV interview, Tiravanija conveys his view of Utopia,

Coming from the East rather than from the West, I think we have a very different culture of what utopia could be. I mean, as a Buddhist, utopia is always existing but it’s about whether you are able to exist in it, it’s in flux. When I say things like Utopia… is a kind of chaos, what I really mean is: maybe the ideal structure that we exist in is constantly changing.

About Rirkrit Tiravanija

Born in Buenos Aires in 1961, Rirkrit Tiravanija grew up in Thailand, Ethiopia and Canada. An internationally renowned artist, his work has been shown in major museums, galleries and international art events. He won the Absolut Art Award in 2010 and the Hugo Boss Prize in 2004 (awarded by the Guggenheim Museum), and was awarded the Benesse by the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Japan and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucelia Artist Award.

AN/KN/HH

Related Topics: Thai artists, installation and performance, participatory art

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