Rirkrit Tiravanija was born in Buenos Aires in 1961. The son of a Thai diplomat, he moved frequently during his youth, growing up primarily in Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada. He received his BA from the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, in 1984, and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986. In 1985 to 1986, he participated in the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York.
Tiravanija is best known for his intimate, participatory installations that revolve around personal and shared communal traditions, such as cooking Thai meals, that are, in the words of curator Rochelle Steiner, “fundamentally about bringing people together.”1 At the forefront of the shift in avant-garde art practices in the 1990s away from traditional art objects and toward “relational aesthetics” that incorporate diverse cultural spaces, practices, and temporalities, Tiravanija has continually challenged and expanded the social dimension of art, inviting people from all walks of life to inhabit the special and personal spaces that he constructs and to communally engage in shared rituals and actions. Through his real-time experiences, Tiravanija often addresses broader social and political concerns, such as protest movements against the Thai government, that go largely unaddressed in Western media. Over the course of his thirty-year career, he has also come to incorporate into his art and installations a wide variety of media, including painting, printmaking, video, photography, mixed-media assemblage, and music.
Since the early 1990s, Tiravanija has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions, many of which center around unique participatory installations or practices. He was the subject of two major retrospectives in the 2000s: Nothing: A Retrospective, at Chiang Mai University Art Museum, Thailand, in 2004, and A Retrospective (tomorrow is another fine day), which was presented simultaneously at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2004 to 2005, and later at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 2005. A comprehensive catalogue for the retrospectives was published in 2007. Conceived as an artist’s book, the monograph also documents the trajectory of Tiravanija’s work, starting in 1989, using a unique storyboard-style presentation. In 2007, David Zwirner presented its first exhibition with Tiravanija, which featured the artist’s Untitled 1992 (Free), that is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Currently on view at David Zwirner Hong Kong until May 2023 is Rirkrit Tiravanija: The Shop, a solo exhibition of the artist’s work.
Other important solo exhibitions of Tiravanija’s work have been presented at prominent institutions worldwide, including the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (1996); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1998); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (1999); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1999); Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu, Japan (2000); Portikus, Frankfurt (2001 and 2004); Kunsthall Oslo (2001); Secession, Vienna (2002); Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, Germany (2003); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2005); The Drawing Center, New York (2008); Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany (2009); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2009); Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis (2009); Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2012); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012); Centre d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona (2014); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2014); Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Brasília (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2016); and National Gallery of Singapore (2018).
In 2019 to 2020, Tiravanija’s Fear Eats the Soul, a major solo exhibition featuring several interactive and participatory elements, including a soup kitchen and T-shirt workshop, was presented at Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland. Also in 2019, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, hosted Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Green, in which Tiravanija transformed the museum’s galleries into a communal dining space where visitors were served curry. The artist also created a large-scale mural on the museum walls over the course of the exhibition. From 2021 to 2022, the artist’s work untitled 2018 (the infinite dimensions of smallness) was installed in the sculpture garden of the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium.
In October 2023, a major survey of Tiravanija’s work, Rirkrit Tiravanija: A LOT OF PEOPLE, will go on view at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York. This will be the artist’s largest exhibition to date, as well as one of the museum’s most extensive single-artist presentations.
The artist’s work was featured in the Venice Biennale in 1993, 1999, 2011, and 2015. He also exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial in 2006, and the Whitney Biennial in 1995 and 2006. At the 2012 Paris Triennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Tiravanija presented Soup/No Soup (2011–2012), a twelve-hour banquet that was open to all visitors at the Grand Palais.
Among his many awards and honors, Tiravanija was the recipient of the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
Work by the artist is represented in international museum and public collections, including Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida; Fond National d’Art Contemporain (FNAC), Paris; Fond Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) Occitanie Montpellier, France; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Fundación Tantica, Buenos Aires; Inhotim Institute, Brumadinho, Brazil; Le Consortium, Dijon, France; Louisiana Museum for Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Museum of Contemporary Art, Bangkok; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri; Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Berlin; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Tiravanija lives and works in New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai.
1Quoted in Calvin Tomkins, “Shall We Dance?,” The New Yorker , 2005.
Click here to download full CV
Opening October 12, 2023
From the start his practice, a critical material for Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961) has been the presence of “a lot of people”—a purposefully broad and expansive term that stands as an open invitation to everyone and anyone, present and future. His largest exhibition to date, Rirkrit Tiravanija: A LOT OF PEOPLE traces four decades of the artist’s career and features over 100 works, from early experimentations with installation and film, to works on paper, photographs, ephemera, sculptures, and newly produced “demonstrations” of key participatory pieces.
The exhibition includes rarely seen early works that address his experiences as an immigrant with a palpable sense of “otherness” in a Western-centric art world, alongside more recent series that tackle global politics and the quotidian news cycle. Several interactive works will also be on view, along with restagings of five participatory works scheduled at set intervals throughout the run of the exhibition. These happenings will be staged anew in site-specific enactments at MoMA PS1—an experiment in presenting and reconsidering his situational performances. By surveying his practice as a sculptor, filmmaker, traveler, collaborator, and mentor, A LOT OF PEOPLE provides an overview of the striking complexity of Tiravanija’s efforts to “bring people in” to encounter each other and “make less things, but more useful relationships.”
Learn more at MoMA PS1.
The work of Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961, Buenos Aires) will be presented throughout the month of May at various sites in Haus der Kunst, forming a de-centralised exhibition. The exhibition coincides with Toshio Hosokawa’s opera Hanjo, which will be staged in the Westgalerie of Haus der Kunst in collaboration with the Bayerische Staatsoper, for which Tiravanija is creating the stage design. The Opera Hanjo is based on a modern Nō play by the same name written by Yukio Mishima (b. 1915, Tokyo, d. 1970, Tokyo) which was itself inspired by a 14th century play by Zeami Motokiyo. It tells the story of two lovers and explores the borders between dream and reality, between madness and sanity.
Tiravanija’s practice focuses on the artistic production of social engagement, often inviting viewers to inhabit, participate and activate his work, engaging in shared rituals — as with his culinary performances — and actions. Over the course of his thirty-year career, he has also come to incorporate installations, painting, printmaking, video, photography, mixed-media assemblage, and music into his practice, but always with an emphasis on varied cultural spaces and temporalities.
Curated by Emma Enderby with Hanns Lennart Wiesner
The staging of Hanjo by Toshio Hosokawa is a cooperation of Haus der Kunst München and Bayerische Staatsoper.
Learn more at Haus der Kunst.
Rirkrit Tiravanija in collaboration with Cooperativa 1050º - Mezcal vs. Pulque
April 30–August 27, 2022
Over the course of the last two years, Rirkrit Tiravanija traveled several times to the state of Oaxaca to meet and learn from master potters from different regions. During his journeys, he practiced pottery techniques preserved for centuries within local families who have passed their craft down from one generation to the next. With the help and collaboration of Cooperativa 1050º—a cooperative of potters from Oaxaca, Puebla, and Chiapas, and led by Kythzia Barrera—Tiravanija worked on special designs for vases, cups, and other vessels that will be shown in the exhibition Mezcal vs. Pulque at kurimanzutto from April 30 to July 16, 2022, in Mexico City.
During one of his visits to Rio Blanco Tonaltepec with Cooperativa 1050º and its community, Tiravanija discovered an abandoned stone house that became the inspiration for the exhibition. A wooden reproduction of this house resides in the middle of the gallery and serves as an intimate shelter for viewing the pottery pieces created for it. The structure on view at kurimanzutto was built to recall his encounter with this construction in the middle of the Oaxacan landscape, made of fired wooden planks that emanate the burnt smell of the potters’ ovens.
In previous exhibitions, Rirkrit Tiravanija created spatial environments for Asian tea ceremonies where the act of serving allows the participants to pause their regular activities and observe the present moment for the duration of the ritual. For the exhibition in Mexico, the artist wishes to create a similar environment where mezcal and pulque are served in the clay pieces as a means of honoring the two native beverages.
Through a Solidarity Print Sale, contemporary artists from around the world have come together in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine to support the nonprofit organization Artists at Risk. Proceeds from the sale, which includes open edition artworks from Rirkrit Tiravanija and Luc Tuymans, will help provide emergency resources, travel aid, and shelter for artists and art workers fleeing Ukraine and other crises, as well as artists in Russia who have been vocal in their opposition and are now facing severe danger.
Participating artists have contributed a digital file of their choice to be produced as an open edition at 55 cm x 45 cm by Recom Art in Berlin. The first round of sales closes on April 30, 2022, after which all prints will be mailed.
Artists at Risk has been collaborating with arts nonprofits and government funders since 2013 to assist artists politically at risk and fleeing oppression and war.
To learn more and shop the sale, visit Solidarity Prints.
David Zwirner to work with Rirkrit Tiravanija
April 21, 2021 – David Zwirner is pleased to announce that the gallery will be working with Rirkrit Tiravanija. His first solo exhibition of new work is planned for spring 2022 at the Hong Kong location.
Opening in May 2021, Tiravanija’s untitled 1990 (pad thai), a seminal early work, will be presented at the Hong Kong gallery as part of a group exhibition. First enacted at the Paula Allen Gallery, New York, in 1990, untitled 1990 (pad thai) was the artist’s first live participatory installation. For the work, he prepared and served food to visitors and then gathered the remnants of the meal as evidence of the event.
In 2007, David Zwirner presented an iteration of Tiravanija’s untitled (free). First exhibited at the 303 Gallery space at 89 Greene Street in 1992, the work involved Tiravanija turning the original gallery’s office space into a kitchen where Thai curry was cooked and served to visitors. At David Zwirner, Tiravanija re-created the spatial dimensions of 89 Greene Street out of plywood and proceeded to have curry prepared once again, while also displaying the remnants of the original presentation as a kind of record of the event. The work is now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Of collaborating with Tiravanija, David Zwirner says, “Rirkrit Tiravanija is a longtime friend. I have known him as long as I have had a gallery, and have been collecting his work since the early 1990s. Rirkrit is a transformational artist. Relational art would not be what it is without his immense influence. His work is about connection, community, and shared experiences. I think after this past year in which there has been so much disconnection and separation, his art is even more important and meaningful.”
Image: Installation view, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 1992 (Free), 1992–2007, David Zwirner New York, 2007
Rirkrit Tiravanija: Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Green
May 17–July 24, 2019
Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green) is the Hirshhorn’s first-ever exhibition of works by contemporary Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. Organized by Mark Beasley, the museum’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, Curator of Media and Performance Art, the exhibition transforms the Hirshhorn’s galleries into a communal dining space in which visitors are served curry and invited to share a meal together. The installation includes a large-scale mural, drawn on the walls over the course of the exhibition, which references protests against Thai government policies. Additional historic images spoke to protest and the present. The exhibition also includes a series of documentary shorts curated exclusively for the Hirshhorn by Thailand’s leading independent filmmaker and Palme d’Or prize-winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul in collaboration with the artist. Tiravanija’s presentation unites his signature communal food-based work with his ongoing series of drawings derived from protest imagery, creating a unique dialogue within a single installation.
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (Lunch Box) at National Gallery of Victoria
June 7–October 7, 2018
Rirkrit Tiravanija's Untitled (lunch box) is a conceptual work that involves inviting randomly selected visitors to share a Thai takeaway meal in the gallery space. The meal consists of pork satay, green papaya salad, chicken yellow curry, and rice, as specified by the artist.
Tiravanija is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation. Since the 1990s, he has based much of his art around the idea of creating social spaces and platforms for instruction and discussion. His works have taken various forms, including performances, teaching, readings, broadcasting music, cooking, and sharing meals. They are associated with the concept of "relational aesthetics," a term coined in the 1990s by French curator and art critic Nicolas Bourriaud, who defines it as "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space." To put it simply, as Tiravanija has stated, "it is not what you see that is important but what takes place between people."
March 21–May 27, 2018
Democracy appears to be in crisis; the post-democratic era has already dawned. The symptoms are manifold: populist leaders, fake news, autocratic backlash, totalitarian propaganda, neoliberalism. However, tendencies toward a re-politicized society have been palpable for some time now. Artists, too, are increasingly raising objections. They create works that they see as instruments of criticism and which expressly pursue political intentions.
In a major exhibition, the SCHIRN brings together artistic positions which can be read as seismographs of contemporary political activity. It focuses on fundamental issues and the examination of the phenomena and possibilities of political participation. The works call political positions into question, illustrate forms of protest, and set their sights on artistic involvement. Installations, photographs, videos, paintings, and sculptures document the erosion of democratic achievements and the active pressure of the new mass movements. They analyze discourses on dominance and nonconformist interjections, develop strategies of opposition, and reflect the imaginative ways of the new protest culture.
Artists: Halil Altındere, Phyllida Barlow, Guillaume Bijl, Julius von Bismarck, Andrea Bowers, Osman Bozkurt, Tobias Donat, Sam Durant, Omer Fast, Mark Flood, Forensic Architecture, Dani Gal, Katie Holten, Adelita Husni-Bey, Hiwa K, Edgar Leciejewski, Jonathan Monk, Ahmet Öğüt, Ricarda Roggan, Marinella Senatore, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nasan Tur, Jens Ullrich
Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Commission: Rirkrit Tiravanija: untitled 2018 (the infinite dimensions of smallness)
January 24–October 28, 2018
Critically-acclaimed artist Rirkrit Tiravanija presents untitled 2018 (the infinite dimensions of smallness), the second showcase of the Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Commission series. This site-specific installation consists of a large-scale bamboo maze with a Japanese tea house at its center. Drawing on regional materials, architecture, and traditions, it embraces Tiravanija’s interest in cross-disciplinary and collaborative art practice. Within the space, visitors are invited to encounter each other and participate in interactive programs including tea ceremonies by local and international tea masters.
Rirkrit Tiravanija participates in the Whitney’s Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016
October 28, 2016–February 5, 2017
Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 focuses on the ways in which artists have dismantled and reassembled the conventions of cinema—screen, projection, darkness—to create new experiences of the moving image. The exhibition’s title refers to the science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft’s alternate fictional dimension, whose terrain of cities, forests, mountains, and an underworld can be visited only through dreams. Similarly, the spaces in Dreamlands will connect different historical moments of cinematic experimentation, creating a story that unfolds across a series of immersive spaces.
The exhibition will be the most technologically complex project mounted in the Whitney’s new building to date, embracing a wide range of moving image techniques, from hand-painted film to the latest digital technologies. The works on view use color, touch, music, spectacle, light, and darkness to confound expectations, flattening space through animation and abstraction, or heightening the illusion of three dimensions.
Dreamlands spans more than a century of works by American artists and filmmakers, and also includes a small number of works of German cinema and art from the 1920s with a strong relationship to, and influence on, American art and film. Featured are works in installation, drawing, 3-D environments, sculpture, performance, painting, and online space, by Trisha Baga, Ivana Bašić, Nuotama Frances Bodomo, Dora Budor, Ian Cheng, Bruce Conner, Ben Coonley, Joseph Cornell, Andrea Crespo, François Curlet, Alex Da Corte, Oskar Fischinger, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Alex Israel, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Pierre Joseph, Aidan Koch, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Anthony McCall, Josiah McElheny, Syd Mead, Lorna Mills, Jayson Musson, Melik Ohanian, Philippe Parreno, Jenny Perlin, Mathias Poledna, Edwin S. Porter, Oskar Schlemmer, Hito Steyerl, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Stan VanDerBeek, Artie Vierkant, and Jud Yalkut, among others.
June 4–June 26, 2016
Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija invites viewers to play a relaxing game of ping pong as part of his interactive art installation, Tomorrow is the Question. Using social interaction as his starting point, Tiravanija creates encounters in which the audience is given an active role. In his characteristic, humorous way, he presents his radical views on the established forms of exhibition and their conventions, supplanting them with a more theatrical, social, and even cozy experience, preferably situated outside of traditional exhibition venues and as accessible as possible. According to Tiravanija, “It is not what you see that is important, but what takes place between people.”
Setting up a cluster of ping pong tables on Museumplein, Tiravanija aims to seduce his audience into taking part—to play a game of ping pong or watch others play. Through his work, he stages social and intimate encounters between people. The usually passive public is encouraged to become active participants. Tiravanija has blurred the boundaries between public and private before, serving green curry to gallery visitors, drinking tea with people visiting a reconstruction of his apartment, or giving away printed T-shirts. He also famously built an enormous picnic table for his audience to sit down and collectively complete a jigsaw puzzle. In The Land (1999–ongoing), he invites people to a piece of wasteland in Thailand to realize their personal artistic, agricultural, or social projects. Tiravanija’s mission is to make contemporary art accessible and blur the boundaries between artist and audience. In Tomorrow is the Question, Tiravanija once again challenges the boundaries between art and life.