To begin with, we faced an interesting start for this week on Friday’s lesson during which as a group we made a Thai curry, then sat down together to eat, pausing momentarily to participate in answering questions and completing tasks such as eating a lime throughout.
This was in response to the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, who in 1992 created an exhibition entitled ‘Untilted (free)’ at 303 Gallery in New York, where he converted it into a kitchen where he served rice and Thai curry for free. A fascinating contemporary performance piece that aims to blur the line between the art and its viewer and form a sense of community through this immersive, nutritious (to both body and mind) experience. He did this in an effort to explore:
Traditionally, the artwork is created by one artist. The said artist subsequently claims ownership and authorship of the work. In a legal framework, he owns the copyright. The market value of the work becomes directly proportionate to the value of the artist’s brand. In Untitled (Free) however, Tiravanija completely rejects this notion.
While Tiravanija has given his piece a loose set-up – where he has hired a gallery, cooked food and invited people – he does not dictate the outcome of the work. Typically when an artist paints a picture, not only does she buy canvas and paints, but she also has a very clear picture of what to paint. She then goes on to give this idea of physical dimensionality through the canvas. On the contrary, Tiravanija has simply arranged all the elements for his piece, without much thought for what the end product should be. He collaborated with his audience to complete the piece.
SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT IN THE GALLERY SPACE
Art galleries have traditionally nurtured a hush-hush atmosphere within their walls, where viewing and critiquing art is meant to be a solitary activity. Tiravanija challenged this notion. He successfully created an environment conducive to social engagement with complete strangers. The food he served also acted as social stimulant.
Another aspect of interest is that the food served was completely free, which is not only philanthropic but also alludes to the varying socio-economic backgrounds of the audience.
Relational Aesthetics was a term coined by the French art curator and critic Nicholas Bourriaud in the 1990s. The term is used to describe art that is inspired by the ‘realm of human interactions. Characteristically, Instead of simply focusing on aesthetics, this type of art impacts and is impacted by society and relationships. Tiravanija’s work is often classified under this banner of creative practices.
A POINT OF INSPIRATION
In 2018, contemporary artist Subodh Gupta had his first solo exhibition in France. The show titled Adda / Rendez-vous was held at Monnaie de Paris. As part of his show, and arguably taking inspiration from Tiravanija, Gupta cooked and served a traditional Bihari meal to his audience. (1)
Truly, I was unsure of Tiravanija and his work, to begin with. I view cooking together and sharing a meal as an incredibly intimate experience, one that couldn’t be forced or replicated as a performative piece an I strongly believed this experiment in response to his work would prove unsuccessful. However, I really enjoyed this experienced, the food was lovely and I did feel that it brought us closer without the experience feeling natural or forced.
We were each able to choose different roles for the cooking process, of which I became partially responsible for the curing of the vegetables and washing the dishes.
In addition to this, I also helped with the decoration aspect by decorating the bowls to bring forth my own artistic style while appreciating, acknowledging and participating with another.
This week I also got in touch with Phil who provided me with a space to begin my practical work and sheets to protect the area from the spray paint.
I was nervous at first, I hadn’t properly worked with spray paint for a good few years and this would be my first time using stencils so I was unsure of how they would hold up.
To begin with, my work was unsatisfactory, I had brought a pack of various nozzles to expand my capabilities and yet I found them instead to be prohibiting me, preventing me from getting the desired look and lengthening the time spent on single elements as the stencils would often come out unclean.
Luckily the spray paints came with a pack of regular nozzles and I found them to be a lot more useful, deciding it would be in my best interest to stick with them.
My favourite part of this would definitely have to be the text, I love how the layering turned out and how the colours complement each other. I believe you can easily tell that the design is the focal point of the collage.
Alternatively, despite loving the design and being satisfied with the final result one of my least favourites would have to be the eye due to the difficulty I had layering them, taking multiple tries and being incredibly time-consuming.
Additionally, I would prefer the window silhouettes to have cleaner lines and this has shown that I’ll need to redo their stencils now I have better equipment to do so.
Surprisingly, I love the skulls at the bottom, despite appearing messy I think that really adds to their design and I’m glad I made the decision to repeat the design next to one another with varying colours.
In my opinion, the layering and build along with different levels of cleanliness help form this into a multidimensional piece full of personality and history, similar to the graffiti walls I grew up with.
I love the way the eye’s on the face came out. Truth be told it was accidental, but the faded circle with the bolder side for both I think looks really good and helps add expression and personality.
Unfortunately due to poor weather and difficulty working with the spray pain at the beginning, I was only able to complete this one side. Although, now I have a clearer understanding of how I’d like the graffiti to look, what works and what doesn’t and my materials being stored in the creative arts room, removing the strenuous task of moving them back and forth from my accommodation I should be able to progress a lot quicker from here on out, which I’m greatly looking forward to.
Divvya. Rirkrit Tiravanija, “Untitled (Free)”, (1992) – Art from Us. http://www.artfromus.in/artwork-in-focus-rirkrit-tiravanija-untitled-free-1992/.
Great research Jennifer, the workshop, Tirivanija, relational aesthetics etc all reflected on in your own authentic voice, fully understood, fully absorbed, reflected on, excellent. Great you included a video of the process, always good to see. So some frustration, some successful and less successful aspects to it but the overall surface is satisfying and it is going somewhere now, the rocket has launched! as you say once you get on top of the technique you can really go for it. Did you look at the work of Katerina Grosse? I feel sure she will really inspire you – https://gagosian.com/quarterly/2022/01/24/interview-video-katharina-grosse-and-graham-bader/, inspire you to be ambitious and provocative..