Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) lives and works in New York, Berlin and Bangkok. He studied at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto (1980-1984), The Banff Centre School of Fine Arts, Banff (1984), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1984-1986). He is on the faculty in the School of Visual Arts at Columbia University in New York, the winner of the prestigious 2010 Absolut Art Award and the Guggenheim’s 2004 Hugo Boss Prize.
Tiravanija’s works concern themselves with the individual’s experience of the communal, where socialising is a core element. His installations often take the form of stages or rooms with large architectural structures for playing music, sharing meals, cooking or reading. Offering a utilitarian ambiance, he invites the viewer to take part in his work; This unremitting ability to physically engage his viewer is what gave him international reputation. The importance of encouraging social interactions between people, through art or food, underlines the main pull of Tiravanija’s works. Relational aesthetics best describes his practice – it is a term that refers to human relations and their social context, rather than the private space itself (Nicolas Bourriaud, 1998). Considering Tiravanija’s works, Adam Welch comments that “one gets the sense of an Utopian ideal that transcends the rationalism of art institutions and is realised through the individual experience of the communal”. In the art world in particular, Rirkrit questions the traditional spatial appreciation of art and undermines the notion of possession and accumulation.
Much of Tiravanija’s early work involved cooking in an art-related space such as a museum or gallery, for example, his first solo show, Pad Thai (1990) at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York. One reason Rirkrit cooks and offers food to visitors is to undermine the greed and possessiveness that are so typical of our times. More recently at the Tate Modern, Tiravanija turned to filmmaking to explore the lives of Thai labourers. He suggests that as wealth is accumulated, fewer and fewer people can enjoy it.
For Open Source, Tiravanija has created a film depicting Annlee, an anime character who reads the entire script of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep', by Philip K. Dick, the novel which inspired Blade Runner. Annlee is a character developed and copyrighted by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno in 1999. Tiravanija once again explores the communal aspect (reading), but rather differently, as the human interaction is with a digital character.