Rirkrit Tiravanija

b. 1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lives and works in Thailand, Germany and New York.

Rirkrit is an Argentina-born Thai artist who lives between New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai and his work carries strains of this nomadic existence, blending and recombining different cultural contexts. Rather than insisting on a particular reality or truth, his work creates open-ended contexts for people to grapple with these questions themselves. The strength of his work lies precisely in its ephemerality and the slippery ways it escapes definition; he takes the material of the every-day and re-stages it, allowing the viewer a perspective at once banal and deeply profound about the quickly fleeting nature of life itself.

Even though Rirkrit Tiravanija’s diverse artistic production eludes classification, he has accurately described it as “relational”: a body of work focused on real-time experience and exchange that breaks down the barriers between the object and the spectator while questioning the art object as fetish, and the sacredness of the gallery and museum display.

Rirkrit’s work first came to public awareness in a 1989 New York gallery through untitled (), which consisted of weekly renewed displays of the various stages of a green curry meal: a pedestal for ingredients, a pedestal for curry cooking on a burner, and a pedestal with waste products. In 1992, he continued to push and question the possibilities and principles of the gallery space in untitled (free), in which he emptied out an art gallery and turned it into a social/meeting space where he cooked large meals for visitors; and in untitled (1999), an exact replica of his East Village apartment where people were invited to live in. The artist has also described his work as “comparable to reaching out, removing Marcel Duchamp’s urinal from its pedestal, reinstalling it back on the wall, and then, in an act of returning it to its original use, pissing in it.” He is interested in subverting deeply ingrained ways of interacting with art through novel forms of collaboration and exchange that diminish the preciousness of objects, reconsidering their lifecycle and function while remaining accessible to a broad public.

The artist received his BA from Ontario College of Art and Design in 1984 and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986. From 1985-1986, he participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program.

He has received numerous grants and awards, including the Absolut Art Award 2010; the Silpathorn Award by the Ministry of Culture in Thailand (2017); Hugo Boss Prize (2004); and Lucelia Artist Award by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2003), among others.

Country: Thailand