From THE SEA THAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT THE OTHERS SEE by Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija and Antto Melasniemi

Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija in Five Exhibits This Fall

BY Catherine Fisher, September 24, 2021

Professor Rirkrit Tiravanija is featured in five exhibits around the world this fall. 


First, he has an installation at the Drum Café in LUMA Arles, an arts space in Arles, France. There, Tiravanija has designed and created a bar in the ground floor area of The Tower, which was designed by Frank Gehry. The bar is imagined as a lived-in art piece. This restaurant and bar reckons with the conventional idea of hospitality through its singular visual identity. 


Conviviality and sharing lie at the base of Tiravanija’s work. The space becomes, especially after the events of this year, a crucial representation of time spent with others. The design centers on materials from the region Camargue. It deploys natural resources “such as sunflower pulp, local wool, natural pigments and fabric dyes.” A 10-meter-long monumental tapestry created with artisans in Aubusson factory, central France, is the landmark of the space.

Working with similar ideas, Tiravanija installed a commissioned piece at Museum Dhondt Dhaenens in Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium. The piece is “a 20-metre-long maze by Tiravanija which leads visitors to a Japanese wooden tea house in the middle.” Like much of Tiravanija's work, this piece requires physical presence and personal engagement. It offers opportunities for socializing and activating the senses. In previous iterations (in Singapore and Poitiers, both in 2018), the maze was constructed from bamboo. This time, “the artist replaced wood with metal scaffolding, in reference to the recent renovation at the museum, linking the museum’s project with the rules of hospitality.”


At the Helsinki Biennial, Tiravanija collaborated with Antto Melasniemi to create a piece called THE SEA THAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT THE OTHERS SEE, 2021. In this work, the two have transformed the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) Corner space into a total work of art that revolves, as each of these shows do, around food and sociality. Cooking and eating are a shared aesthetic experience. The piece incorporates mushrooms that grow on logs in the space as ingredients in the dishes served to museum goers. The concept is “itself mushroom-like, rhizomally reaching out through the sharing of food, impulses, and communication.” 


At BIENALSUR hosted by The Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tiravanija performs a work entitled No bread no ashes. For this exhibition, the artist brings back “one of the most significant works in the history of Argentine art: the performance Construction of a popular oven to make bread by the Argentine artist Víctor Grippo (1936-2002). [The original] performance consisted of installing a rural practice in the heart of Buenos Aires to bake bread and distribute it among passers-by in an act of socializing food.” Tiravanija’s reimagination of this piece takes place in San Juan, Argentina where he installs “five rural ovens in different public spaces in that city. The ovens will be lit and used by San Juan bakers who will distribute the bread to the neighbors.” 


Finally, Tiravanija is featured in a group show, Common Space, at Oolite Arts in Miami, Florida, which also includes work by alumna Rafael Domenech ('19), Professor Sarah Sze, and Profesor Tomas Vu. There, the show aims to dismantle and re-envision social space as a site of artistic production. “Architecture, cartography, and language emerge as subjects and methods to respond to the distribution of space as well as the production of identity, meaning, and power therein.” The exhibition spans galleries and studios as well as common rooms at Oolite Arts and integrates residency and visiting artist cultures. “Site-specific installations and activations throughout the duration of the exhibition will provide prompts for viewer participation and engagement.”


Throughout these five shows, Tiravanija returns again and again to timely themes of sharing space and time. After more than a year of social isolation, the artist’s exhibits invite art-lovers worldwide to come, share, and enjoy.