A workshop with field trip by Peter Stamer and Rirkrit Tiravanija at Impulstanz Vienna, August 8th – 12, 2016

I invited Rirkrit for a joint workshop venture during Impulstanz because of my admiration for RT’s ‚social choreographies’, his communal cooking performances in the last 20 years. In my view, Rirkrit is interested in setting up socio-spatial conditions that create and allow for various hospitalities, a practice that feels close to mine.

And so we met and talked on a cloudy Berlin afternoon in the beginning of July. We had tea on a small terrace in Charlottenburg and talked about movies, our artistic practices, and of course about cooking in various environments. What about installing mobile cooking devices in the streets of Vienna, but also visiting shelters for homeless people or refugee camps, entering black boxes or white cubes, opening restaurants for one day in places that are closed during summer? What’s the ‘performative impact’ in interventions that spontaneously open up an alternative perspective and, on top of all, create conditions for hospitality? How do we tie our micro-action into the larger picture, into the macro-perspective of society, what kind of space do we produce when we intervene in a given spatial environment? But no, no academic discussion here. We were rather totally nourrished by a hands-on approach of ‚what’s cooking?’

Standing in the kitchen, Rirkrit measuring the temperature of the simmering (!!) water whilst Peter was standing in the doorway, we also talked about the imaginative power of story-telling. RT spoke about empty exhibitions of his in large museum halls in which guides or docents describe to the visitors art objects of his that are not there, that are absent, not to be seen. By description and story-telling, they rather make them manifest in one’s individual imagination. Click: a point of departure I am also very interested in: how to create worlds with the power of mere words? Challenging the practice of representation, of objecthood by evoking imagination, by planting an image in the head of the beholder, the spectator instead?

There is a force of imagination within story-telling and oral narrations, some blasting force that we tend to overlook in our world that is stuffed with objects, things, the lure of the visible. Piecing a world together that doesn’t exist maybe opens up to some hidden politics within this practice, a political practice of not being okay with the world that instead should be altered by our imaginative forces. This is not just concerning the politics of seeing differently, it’s also addressing the politics of experiencing with one’s own body.

And here creating the convivial experience of cooking together meets the experience of imagining other convivial spaces, other communitarian takes which are not forced upon bodies, but created by a collective imaginary…

Check for updates also the workshop page at Impulstanz.

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. Tiravanija is on the faculty of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and 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.