Rirkrit Tiravanija is an artist who, since the 1990s, has aligned his artistic production with an ethic of social engagement, often inviting viewers to inhabit and activate his work. In one of his best-known series, begun with pad thai (1990) at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York, Tiravanija rejected traditional art objects altogether and instead cooked and served food for exhibition visitors. Over the following years, the artist ignored the prescribed division between art and life, constructing communal environments that offer a playful alternative venue for quotidian activities. His engagement with propaganda can be seen in his ongoing series of commissioned drawings derived from newspaper images. For his ongoing project The Land (begun in 1998), a collaborative artistic, architectural, and environmental recovery project in Sanpatong, Thailand, residents and artists are welcomed to use a plot of land as a laboratory for development, cultivating rice, building sustainable houses, or channeling solar power.
Tiravanija lives and works in New York, Berlin and Chiang Mai; his work has been recognized with numerous awards and grants including a Gordon Matta Clark Foundation Award, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition Award (1993), National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship (1994), the Lucelia Artist Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2003), and the Hugo Boss Prize from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2004). His work has been featured in a number of iterations of the Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2011, and 2015), alongside the São Paulo Biennial (2006) and the Whitney Biennial (1995 and 2005). Tiravanija had two significant retrospectives in the 2000s: Nothing: A Retrospective, at Chiang Mai University Art Museum, Thailand (2004) and A Retrospective (tomorrow is another fine day), presented simultaneously at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004 to 2005).