Talk Through the Art

In the mid-1990s, artists such as Philippe Parreno, Maurizio Cattelan, Elizabeth Peyton and Carsten Höller were lumped together under the rubric “relational aesthetics” by French critic Nicolas Bourriaud due to their interest in the rapidly changing nature of social interaction at the onset of the digital age. Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has transformed the work of this generation of artists into the installation Rirkrit Tiravanija: Chew the Fat, an experience that is part informative, part calmative. Tiravanija filmed interviews with eleven of the “relational aesthetics” artists, most of whom have also collaborated previously with Tiravanija; these interviews took place on fishing boats, while walking along the banks of the Seine, on a German train and while checking e-mail. A feature-length edit of all the interviews screens on seven monitors, and five additional monitors show the full interviews with five of the participants. The gallery space has been covered with wall-to-wall orange carpeting, and large pillows are scattered about, so you can plop down and enjoy the entire project in comfort. The idea is to reveal the spirit of a specific generation of modern artists in a friendly environment that will foster feelings of sociability — the distance inherent in digital-age communication thus bridged and brought back to the meat world, at least for the duration of your involvement. Rirkrit Tiravanija: Chew the Fat opens with a free public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 8, at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the Washington University campus (1 Brookings Drive; 314-935-4523 or The exhibit remains up through Monday, July 27; the museum is open every day except Tuesday. Admission is free.
Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: May 8. Continues through July 27, 2009
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