Biography of Rirkrit Tiravanija
Hugely popular around the world, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s conceptual, and socially engaging artworks have made him one of the leading lights of Relational Art. Through his emphasis on interaction, his work becomes focused on the experience of the individual in a communal setting. By rejecting the traditional division between life and art, Tiravanija brings everyday activities out of their usual environments and into new and playful situations.
Born in 1961 in Buenos Aires in Argentina, Rirkrit Tiravanija was raised in Thailand and Ethiopia before finally ending up in Canada. He studied at the the Ontario College of Art in Toronto as well as at various American institutions, such as the Whitney Independent Studies Program in New York in 1986. Always keen to bring people together in his artwork, his early installations often involved sharing meals, reading, and playing music. In these scenarios the architectural settings took on an added significance to facilitate the socialized core element.
Rirkrit Tiravanija first came to prominence with the exhibition pad thai in 1990 at a commercial New York gallery. For the exhibition he rejected conventional art objects to cook meals for the visiting audience. Famously he once said “It is not what you see that is important but what takes place between people.” His multiples and limited editions are often derived in some way from his actual exhibitions, and can be cooking utensils, games, or even maps.
In 2004 he was awarded the Hugo Boss Prize by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Rirkrit Tiravanija has exhibited around the world with solo exhibitions at MoMA, New York in 1997 and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2005. He has had retrospectives at the Whitney Biennial in 2006 and at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. For many years he was married to the American artist Elizabeth Peyton. He now divides his time between New York and Berlin.