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Art Berlin 2019


Rirkrit Tiravanija
September 12 to 15, 2019
Booth 2.B.3.

What does it take to live a good, authentic life? As little as possible, believes Rirkrit Tiravanija. Food, a roof over your head, community, not much else. In 1998, the artist initiated the Land Foundation together with Kamin Lertchaiprasert as an actual experiment in living such a modest life in harmony with nature. Roughly a twenty-minute drive from the northern Thai city of Chang Mai, The Land is located on rice fields abandoned by farmers due to unfavorable weather conditions.

The Land is not a place of art in a stricter sense. The Land seeks to spread and promote an open exchange of ideas on art, ecology, economics, and community spirit—fundamental issues especially in a country like Thailand whose economy is largely dependent on tourism. The project is also a field of experimentation regarding ideas of ownership. Nobody owns The Land. Everyone is welcome and can spend time there, collaborating and contributing their ideas.

It is Tiravanija’s most involved, personal project—he spends part of the year there—and perfectly embodies the practice of the artist who has focused from the outset on creating social situations and communities. Another example here is his most famous series, Pad Thai, which he initiated in 1990 at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York. Rather than presenting works of art, Tiravanija prepared the typical Thai noodle dish and served it to visitors.

All that transpires on The Land is based on a bigger idea or might become one. This includes buildings designed by artists such as Tobias Rehberger or Philippe Parreno and François Roche, but also how the ground is cultivated: there are three quarters of water to every quarter of earth (soil), the same ratio in the human body. Rice is grown using the simplest of means—the plot has no electricity or water supply—but also for reasons not based on economics: the harvest is distributed among all participants as well as several families in the neighboring village suffering from AIDS.

All the multiples presented reference the special living conditions at the Land Foundation:

The green synthetic jacket not only transforms into a tent, but also features a map showing the way to the foundation; the solar cooker comes with a Buddhist rice pot and rice grown on site; a prototype of the shower bicycle, which uses pedal power to operate the water pump, is used there; the newest multiple as well, a flag with the inscription HOPE HAS NO RIGHT ANGLES alludes to the ideas behind The Land.

Tiravanija sees art as a method for inventing and playing out new ways of living. The Land is a utopia that invites us to radically rethink the issues facing us today.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, born in 1961 in Buenos Aires, grew up in Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada, and later studied in the US. Today he lives and works in New York, Chiang Mai, and Berlin.

Text: Beate Scheder
Translation: Erik Smith

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