Rirkrit Tiravanija, the Thai artist behind famed interactive pieces that have enlisted materials as diverse as soup and social interactions, will have his first United States museum survey this fall at MoMA PS1 in New York, which is billing the show as his largest to date.
Curated by Ruba Katrib and Yasmil Raymond, working in collaboration with Jody Graf and Kari Rittenbach, the show is set to be one of the biggest exhibitions PS1 has devoted to a single artist in the past few years, with more than 100 works in multiple mediums. It will open October 12 and run through March 2024.
For many attending the exhibition, the main attraction will be the works that involve user participation. Arguably Tiravanija’s most famous piece, untitled 1990 (pad thai), first staged that year at New York’s Paula Allen Gallery, involves the preparation of the namesake dish by a team of workers and the consumption of the meal by attendees; it is considered a key artwork from its era. That work is one of the five interactive pieces that will appear in the PS1 show, where they will sit on a stage, as though they were theatrical productions.
“Rirkrit is thinking of them as plays,” Katrib said in a phone conversation. “There will be actors, but they will be breaking the fourth wall. It’s maintaining the ethos of participating.”
She added, “It’s going to be really interesting—so many of these works have become mythologized.”
Katrib pointed out that those early food-oriented performances produced objects, and indeed, the PS1 show will also feature sculptures, works on paper, ephemera, films, and other works made in modes more familiar to those who attend galleries. These works address topics as diverse as the news cycle, diasporas, and the very notion of art history itself.
There are, however, aspects of Tiravanija’s expansive practice that cannot fit in a gallery, no matter its size. Tiravanija, who was born in Buenos Aires and is now based between New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai, is a cofounder of the Land Foundation, which promotes farming in Thailand, and he was a co-initiator in 2006 in the artist-led Gallery VER in Bangkok. He’s also taught art for many years at Columbia University.
Katrib promised that these activities would make their way into the show’s catalogue, one of the most significant tomes devoted to Tiravanija, and said that the exhibition would provide a prime moment demonstrating how the artist has spurred on others around him.
“Working on the show, it’s been so interesting to see how Rirkrit has been so influential,” Katrib said. “He’s really impacted so many artists, and his work is so referential—he’s a student of art history, so his work is about the history of modern and contemporary art practices. [The way] he’s deployed those references has impacted so many artists. His ideas and the ways he approaches his works have really seeped into the broader consciousness.”