The graphite images on the pristine white walls of the gallery show images of pain and protest, death and march. Some scenes are familiar, historical, and even iconic footage from the 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. film. March on Washington to the Million Man March; the suffragettes at the Women’s March; all alongside more macabre scenes of Taiwanese uprisings.
In the middle of the room, almost on the opposite side of the conflict, are nourishing bowls of curry, given to every museum spectator who wants one, allowing visitors to eat, reflect and perhaps talk to each other about the whirlwind of events so vividly displayed around them.
Yes Rirkrit Tiravanijathe new room at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is actually performance art, some of the performers must be the visitors who consume the tasty Thai food, as well as the local muralists who continue to work hard on the murals, using overhead projectors, scaffolding and charcoal Of wood.
Tiravanija used shared food in his work for three decades. The Argentinian-born and Canadian-trained artist provided communal meals as part of her work dating back to Untitled empty parenthesis in 1989, and Untitled (Free) in 1992. His play from 1999 Untitled took it a step further, inviting people to live in a gallery replica of its East Village artist.
For his (who is afraid of red, yellow and green), First exhibited in Bangkok in 2010 and acquired by the Hirshhorn in 2017, Tiravanija owns a popular local restaurant, Beau Thai, to prepare and present three curries – red, yellow and green.
The colors refer to disagreeable political groups in contemporary Thailand: red for rural activists, yellow for royalists, and green for the ever-ubiquitous military. But the title also refers to a series of paintings that the American abstract expressionist painter Barnett newman completed from 1966 to 1970, Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue, a few of whom were disfigured by those who claimed he had perverted the colors of the German flag.
But aside from all these references, says Tiravanija, the three colors represent the three basic curries, nourishing the belly while contemplating the food for thought in the images.
Food is served during lunchtime from Thursday to Sunday until July 24 to approximately 150 first arrivals, or while supplies last. Including hot food as part of an exhibition presented a new set of challenges for the museum, the director Melissa Chiu said. They could not in any case allow the open flame used in the previous staging of the play, for example.
But she says she is “excited to bring the interactive dining experience of Tiravanija to the community of Washington, DC” with a piece that “offers new perspectives on how art and creativity are used to interpret political issues and social of our time ”.
It’s not often that galleries bring together ephemeral works involving food, community and drawings, she says.
As the mural says, viewers “are invited to look, smell and taste as the artist asks us to consider the unpleasant facts of history alongside the communal, domestic and universal act of sharing. food “.
Wearing a John Deere cap and mingling with the lineups and artist scaffolding shortly after opening, Tiravanija, 57, says when he created (who is afraid of red, yellow and green) in Bangkok, “society felt very fractured, even between artists”.
He had collected newspaper footage of protests that appeared to have exploded around the world since the start of the Iraq war. He paid particular attention to the uprisings in Thailand during this century which sparked a backlash.
It gives carte blanche to locally hired artists to draw the murals. As the students enlisted elsewhere, some of the city’s most esteemed muralists were hired to draw much safer political images, a process that will continue as long as the work is on display.
“The idea is to draw over other images and overlay them until the wall turns completely black,” says Tiravanija. “It will become more layered and complex, but eventually everything will be so covered up that people will forget.”
And in a setting where people enjoy the same food, they may eventually be able to share similar ideas, he says.
It certainly gives new meaning to art consumption. Rarely has an exhibition been so literally nourishing.
The facility includes a few documentary film rooms (where food, as in the rest of the museum, is not allowed). One, directed by Tiravanija, is a long and languid look at rural life in Thailand, Lung Neaw visits his neighbors. A second room presents a series of short documentaries from 2004 to 2017 organized for the museum by an independent Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which is movie Uncle Boonmee who can remember his past lives won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
The short films, produced from 2004 to 2017, reflect the social and political scene of contemporary Thailand. One concerns the lamentations of a mother after losing a son during a protest. Another collects images from Thai soap operas; another shows young men exchanging ideas, a third shows how the city comes to a halt as the national anthem is played every night.
The museum organized a special screening on June 8 of an American film chosen by Tiravanija, the 1963 The ugly American, featuring Marlon Brando as an ambassador who travels to a Southeast Asian country where he views conflict as communism versus democracy, but fails to detect the underlying complexity.
“It’s a movie I saw when I was a kid, which shows how politics can be manipulated,” Tiravanija says.
From the multimedia approach, however, it’s the four-day lunch line that’s something new for the Hirshhorn, says Mark Beasley, the museum’s media arts and performance curator. But it is also a relatively new practice to acquire a performance piece. When the artwork closes on July 24, the walls will be whitewashed again for the next exhibition. And the written plans for the play will be neatly put away until it is staged again.
“Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who is afraid of red, yellow and green)” runs through July 24 at Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC Food is served from 11:30 a.m. to approximately 1:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, or while supplies last.