MoMA PS1 Celebrates Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija with Sweeping Exhibition

Carlos Barragán
September 29, 2023

Starting this October, the renowned Visual Arts Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija will be the focus of a major exhibition at New York's MoMA PS1, titled Rirkrit Tiravanija: A LOT OF PEOPLE. This event signifies the most extensive exhibition in the US dedicated solely to the Thai artist, presenting a comprehensive look at his remarkable career that stretches over four decades. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of his works, from early films and installations to recent interactive pieces.

In addition to the interactive works on view, five stagings of works that invite audience participation will be scheduled at month-long intervals throughout the run of the exhibition. These stagings include well-known pieces such as untitled 1990 (pad thai) (1990) and untitled 1994 (angst essen seele auf) (1994), as well as more recent works such as untitled 2011 (t-shirt, no t-shirt) (2011), which invite audiences into a series of real-life exchanges and interactions. The site-specific stagings of these pieces acknowledge the distinct times and contexts in which these works were originally made, creating an experience in which audiences can observe, as well as take part in, the happenings with critical distance. As “demonstrations,” these works propose new models for narrating and understanding contemporary art history.

Alongside these, the exhibition features early sculptures and installations, some of which have been reworked over the years using different materials. Many of these pieces were originally created in the late 1980s and 1990s, a critical period during which Tiravanija was laying the groundwork for his unique style. These works reflect his personal journey as an immigrant, navigating the challenges of feeling like an outsider in a Western-dominated art scene. 

Another highlight of the show is Tiravanija’s Demonstration Series (2001–present), drawings from photographs found in The International Herald Tribune. These will be presented alongside another series of pieces that use printed text on newsprint to further tackle global politics and the quotidian news cycle. Many of these works were produced in Tiravanija's studio in Chiang Mai, Thailand, emphasizing his commitment to local and collaborative art creation.

The exhibition has been curated by Ruba Katrib of MoMA PS1, along with Yasmil Raymond from Frankfurt’s Städelschule and Portikus. The show has garnered substantial support from major art patrons, including the Luma Foundation, the Family of Lise Stolt-Nielsen, and the Museum of Modern Art's Contemporary Arts and International Councils. 

Rirkrit Tiravanija: A LOT OF PEOPLE will run from October 12, 2023, through March 4, 2024.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is widely recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation. His work defies media-based description, as his practice combines traditional object-making, public and private performances, teaching, and other forms of public service and social action. Winner of the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize awarded by the Guggenheim Museum, Tiravanija is a founding member and curator of Utopia Station, a collective project of artists, art historians, and curators. Tiravanija is also president of an educational-ecological project known as The Land Foundation, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and is part of a collective alternative space located in Bangkok, where he maintains his primary residence and studio.