RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA ANOTHER SUNNY AFTERNOON
18.02 – 01.05.22, CC STROMBEEK
For his first institutional solo exhibition in Belgium, Rirkrit Tiravanija returns to the work which sparked his international career in the beginning of the 1990s and puts it in close relation with the oeuvre of Marcel Broodthaers, whose practice has remained one of his primary influences over the course of the last thirty years. With six newly produced works, Another Sunny Afternoon takes us on a journey into the past of two of the most influential artists of our time and invites the visitors to imagine and discuss which paths we may follow in times to come, beyond the current state of restrictions and withdrawal.
For untitled 1992 (free), Tiravanija famously assembled all moveable items of New York’s 303 Gallery in the exhibition space and installed a makeshift kitchen in the back office, thus turning the art business into a gathering space to meet over lunch. Welcomed as an act of institutional critique, the work was also a subtle critique of cultural appropriation and exoticism, for the visitors could choose between two different kinds of curries: one made made from a recipe of Tiravanija’s Thai grandmother and one assimilated to the local conditions, less spicy and with vegetables easily available in downtown Manhattan. While these aspects of untitled 1992 (free) have been widely discussed since, the meaning of the title was all too quickly equaled with “free food for all”, leaving its poetic dimension largely unnoticed.
In Another Sunny Afternoon, instead, the range of potential meanings of the word “free” becomes the central question. Drawing on a list he made at the time of the 1992 exhibition, Tiravanija presents a kaleidoscope of associations, each pointing to different cultural, social, and political situations: a print workshop offers T-shirts with slogans such as “FREE BEER”, “FREE PRESS”, or “FREE FROM OPPRESSION” for take-away. The workshop is located in a scale replica of Broodthaers’ La Salle Blanche (1975) which in itself was a replica of the studio at rue de la Pépinière in Brussels where, in 1968, the Belgian artist had inaugurated the first station of his museological critique, the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles. Made for a retrospective in Paris, the walls of the plywood structure were covered with words related to visual art, turning the room into a spatial poem. In Tiravanija’s version, the words have been replaced by the slogans from the “free” list.
Accordingly, Broodthaers’ Industrial Poems (1968 – 1972) resonate in Tiravanija’s other works in the exhibition, large-scale panels in black and white resembling brick walls. While in his works Broodthaers took up the aesthetics of advertising and street signs, thus pointing to the random poetry of the modern everyday, Tiravanija, who has been working with slogans since 2003, has repeatedly referred to his textual works as road signs which catch our attention in passing. Unlike in Broodthaers, whose panels usually included words and icons, Tiravanija significantly leaves the surfaces of his brick walls empty – symbolically leaving space for future inscriptions and the thoughts that visitors may come up with during their stay at CC Stroombeek.