Alumni and Faculty Contribute to Permanent Installation at The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London

BY Audrey Deng, January 30, 2020

The Institute of Contemporary Art in London commissioned a work by Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija to be stationed permanently in the institute’s lower bar.

untitled 2019 (the form of the flower is unknown to the seed) is a sake bar with communal seating and tables set within a painted sunrise and sunset. The work includes crockery hand-crafted in Tiravanija’s Chiang Mai studio and lighting created in collaboration with alumnus Rafael Domenech '19.

This bar, custom-built for the ICA, is unique to Tiravanjia’s style, who is known to reject art objects in favor of shared experiences and acts of caring. According to the ICA, “Tiravanija is known for a practice that overturns traditional exhibition formats in favour of social interactions through the sharing of everyday activities such as cooking, eating and reading.”

The exhibit opened in June last year, and will close this June. untitled 2019 marks Tiravanija’s return to the ICA, following his participation in the landmark exhibition Real Time in 1993, in which he fed visitors bowlfuls of Thai curry. The artist’s return to the same space with a sake bar instead of curry speaks to how times have changed, and what new communal activity might have more healing power.

In a comment to The Art Newspaper, Tiravanija said, “I wanted a bar that comes from the Japanese idea where everything is close to the ground and more relaxed—it’s not a standing space, it's a place to sit, to think, to talk and contemplate. Everything is moving so fast, we need to pause. Here you can do just that with a beautiful glass of sake and a nice comfortable chair.”

Abovehead, Tiravanija collaborated with Domenech to create the lighting for the sake bar. Domenech, who was featured in a Student Spotlight in 2018, also has work on display in New York. At the SculptureCenter in Queens, Domenech’s commissioned installation Model to exhaust this place functions as a sculpture, a decentered architectural model, a pavilion, and a venue for public programs and gatherings. According to SculptureSpace, this piece “respond[s] to the conditions of the exhibition space as a former trolley repair shop, Domenech uses the building’s existing structure, in particular the tracks of an industrial gantry system, as a machine to produce and facilitate the work. Using materials typically destined for construction sites, the work engages with the urban vernacular of the rapidly growing neighborhood of Long Island City.” This installation will end on March 23, 2020.