Rirkrit Tiravanija: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2014 | 00:50:27 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews

Tags: Conceptual Art, Interview, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work explores the social role of the artist, and that role’s ability to create interactive spaces for people to come together. Focusing less on the construction of discrete objects, he maintains a practice predicated on diffuse forms of installation that facilitate the activities like cooking, reading, and general collectivity. The particularly conceptual nature of his work is a central theme in this interview. While in art school, a teacher Tiravanija greatly admired told him to “stop making art” and this was something he took very seriously. It did not, obviously, end his artistic career, but it did initiate a focus in his practice on the ways in which art could function in broader, less materially centralized contexts. Thinking less about making things, and more about making spaces, and making them for people, he rose to international stardom through a series of event-like projects that radically questioned the appropriate behavior and norms of art spaces.

This deviation from institutional strictures and structures is still something Tiravanija attempts to maintain, and finds it easier to do outside of the Western art world capitals. Adhering to the Buddhist principles of cultivation and observation, he runs what could be described as an agricultural retreat for artists in a provincial town in Thailand. Again, like his other work, this is something that opens a space for people without a given set of rules or directions to follow. He characterizes it, as his whole career with a question, “How can you make a tool that everyone can use without telling them how to use it?” And although “tool” indicates a built object, for Tiravanija it is something far less localizable.

— Nicolas Holt, 2016



Interview conducted by Jacqueline Chao

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