As an alternative to the economy of the artist / restaurateur, food and exchange are the core values in two projects, Soup/No Soup at the Grand Palais in Paris, and Time/Food, a pop-up restaurant that has appeared in New York and Berlin. These emphasize the artist’s practice concerned with dialogue, participation and social and community engagement through cultural activity that explores and blurs art and everyday life.
Rirkrit Tiravanija, (b. 1961), a New-York based Thai artist born in Argentina, was invited to transform the main nave of the Grand Palais in Paris, from noon to midnight on Saturday 7th April 2012, into a large-scale, twelve-hour public banquet on long wooden tables presenting a humble menu consisting solely of Tom Ka, a Thai soup. The performance Soup / No Soup, is a larger scale presentation of the art / food work Fear Eats the Soul created in New York in January 2011. From being a passive spectator, the visitor becomes an active actor in a work in process. The ‘social sculpture’ introduced ideas of otherness, nomadism and the outsider, and welcomed the element of chance encounters as Parisians and tourists might share “a warm moment” by taking part in the gathering, exchange and offering, and the experience based on the encounter. Tiravanija focuses on meeting points of communication and exchange with the intention to abolish the frontier between art and life. Soup/No Soup challenges the expectations, status and form of the work of art – of art world codes and contexts of exhibition and space – with no boundaries between installation, sculpture and performance. Rirkrit Tiravanija won the Absolut Art Award in 2010, and Soup/No Soup was sponsored by The Absolut Company , with the support and participation of the residents of the organization Emmaüs Solidarité.
Time/Food was a temporary restaurant at the Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street , New York, NY 10002, from 24th September – 16th October 2011. Inspired by the informal Mexican comida corrida restaurants, a daily lunch was offered in exchange for time credits and time currency earned through an exchange of labour or assistance in the Time/Bank community. Time/Bank, was initiated by Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle in 2009 and is now a global platform with more than 2000 participants who collectively exchange their time and skills through the use of credits earned through the bank, as an intermediary and guarantor, and without the use of money. Time/Food in Berlin is a pop-up restaurant, open on alternate Sundays.
Time/Food’s menu in New York was prepared by a group of artist / cooks, including Rirkrit Tiravanija, who was guest chef on Sunday 25th September 2011. Other artist / chefs included: Martha Rosler, Carolina Caycedo, Julieta Aranda, Paul Chan, Lawrence Weiner, Ingrid Erstad, Liam Gillick, WAGE (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), Carlos Motta, Superflex, Pierre Huyghe, Alejandro Cesarco, Mariana Silva, Raqs Media Collective, AA Bronson, Anton Vidokle, Sina Najafi/Cabinet, Jason Sinopoli. The price of a meal at Time/Food is One Half Hour.
Images: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Soup/No Soup, Le Grand Palais, 7 April 2012, Photos: Marc Sanchez; Time/Food, Abrons Arts Center, New York, 2011. Photo: Julieta Aranda; Lawrence Weiner, Time currency, photo: Julieta Aranda