Relational Aesthetics and Rirkrit Tiravanija

Relational Aesthetics was a term first defined by Nicolas Bourriaud in 1996 as "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent or private space". Art is judged on inter human relations which they represent, produce, or prompt. The term was first used in a piece of writing Bourriaud did for an exhibition called Traffic which was curated by him in CAPC musee d'Art contemporain de Bordeaux (CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux). Rirkrit Tiravanija was in this exhibition and Bourriaud would continue to mention him in his conversations on Relational Aesthetics.

Bourriaud says "the rold of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the
existing real, whatever scale chosen by the artist". In Relational Aesthetics the audience is regarded as a community, instead of art being an experience between viewer and object it becomes a shared encounter and through collective expereience there is a significance that contrasts with an individual viewer and a work of art being viewed.

The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts links its fine arts program with the ideas of Relational Aesthetics.

Rirkrit Tiravanija was born in 1961 in Buenos Aires from a Thai background and son of a diplomat. He was raised in Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada and educated in Chicago and New York. Currently he divides his time between New York, Berlin, and Bangkok. Needless to say he has a rich and culturally diverse background and he has used his varied cultural interactions from living around the world into his own art practice and has done so very successfully. He is regarded as one of the forerunners of Relational Aesthetics. Currently he is part of the campaign where Gap and the Whitney Museum have partnered to support arts in education by producing Limited Edition T-Shirts by 13 influential contemporary artists.

From what I understand what Tiravanija seeks to do is to create spaces and opportunities, usually in a gallery or museum space, where people can come together and ta
ke part in conversing with each other and people they have never met. Often, but not always, this involves a meal which Tiravanija himself prepares and serves.

I thought Tiravanija put it best when he spoke about his intentions concerning his art at Walker
Art Center:
"The situation is not about looking at art. It is about being in the space, participating in the
activity. The nature of the visit has shifted to emphasize on the gallery as a space for social
interaction. The transfer of such activities as cooking, eating, or sleeping into the realm of the
exhibition space put visitors into very intimate if unexpected contact; the displacement creates
an acute awareness of the notion of public and private, the installations function like scientific
experiments: the displacement becomes a tool and exposes the way scientific thought processes
are constructed. The visitor becomes a participant in that experiment."
-Rirkrit Tiravanaji

Tiravanija doesn't actually produce anything that has a monetary value. He creates a space and
tries to do so in a way that breaks away from the traditional constraints of the art world where
monetary value is often part of a goal. So his art is often consumed but nobody owns it. However
there are times when collectors are purchasing the pots and pans that he used, even leftovers.
Tiravanija has orange cots that he often sleeps on apparently IN the museum or gallery where he
is exhibiting and these cots have been sold and are installed in some museum now.

Anyways setting up a makeshift kitchen or restaurant in a gallery or museum can provide for some
interesting questions or situations. Since anyone can go into these museums and galleries Tiravanija
poses some questions by choosing to set up shop in these spaces.

Yield to Collective Action!!!

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Abakan Red (1969)

"Students in art classes today are most often engaged with working on projects alone. Why do so many teachers resist collaboration? Is it solely the organizational challenges? We’re certainly aware of the benefits it offers to both students and ourselves. How can we overcome the fear of planning collaborative work to more realistically reflect contemporary practice?" (It Takes Two....or Two Hundred by Joe Fusaro)

In the 21st century, one must consider the lack of dedicated teachers, funding to hire more teachers, large class sizes and fear. Many educators are afraid to try "collective" techniques in the classroom. Collaboration is the purest form of art. Students are given an opportunity to explore, observe, learn and create work as a team. As I mentioned before, team building skills are essential to the job market today. Art is such a diverse and flexible medium. I am often shocked when I hear stories about art teachers who refuse to introduce 'group' assignments to the class. Group activities seem to relax the jagged divide between the student labeled 'the artist' and the student that constantly shouts "I HATE ART!" Students are able to bring their own level of expertise to the drawing board. One student may have strong hand-building or drawing skills while another student may have a solid knowledge of color theory.

Research is key when implementing collaborative lessons in the classroom. It is beneficial to the educator as well as the student to bounce ideas around and seek guidance from working artists. I am currently studying the graffiti movement. Before the analysis began, I assumed graffiti was a one person show. Recently, I discovered that graffiti artists collaborate with each other when 'tagging' or 'bombing'. Come to think of it a museum collaborates with the artist, art dealer, local organization and visitor. Teachers need to be proactive, and imaginative in their approach to design lessons that incorporate collective work.

"On my way home that evening, I started thinking about the number of artists in Season 4 alone that rely on other people to make their work ready for public viewing and/or consumption. The total number? Fifteen out of the seventeen, at least, rely on others to bring their work full circle into the gallery, museum, or exhibition space.I mention this fact because it came up in discussion more than once over the past week that the days of artists working alone in a studio, tortured with their ideas and feverishly slaving over canvas, are slowly coming to an end. Artists are collaborating more and more, and using teams to realize ideas that would be impossible to complete on their own." (Joe Fusaro "It Takes Two....or Two Hundred" Art 21 website)

Re: Different Strokes

It was really interesting to hear Mandy and Tina's different reactions to the character of Annlee and I am glad both of you wrote more on your blogs. Thinking about your conversation last Friday, I had one of those "ah, ha" moments. It occurred to me that regardless of what anyone considers the traditional, visual, artistic merit of the piece, for me, there was real art in your discussion of it.
I realize this might sounds a little flaky and the fact that you could both look at the same thing and have different reactions to it isn't that remarkable. However, the way you were able to articulate your thoughts and feelings so that others, who didn't necessarily share them, could understand and empathise is something that seems to me to be a rare, sought-after quality that could be considered art. If I understand correctly, the idea of "relational aesthetics" seems to be about creating relationships. If this piece can evoke feelings, give you fuel for talking about them and ultimately create some kind of understanding  that seems like it should qualify as art. 


ohai Rotoball!

So...I was doing my own browsing and found this fun project that is a collaborative piece.

It's called...Rotoball.

You're probably thinking "Roto-what?!?"

First, here is the link to Rotoball's webpage.

Rotoball is a collaborative animation project. The project was originally designed to allow high school students to connect through a series of animations involving an animated ball. Each group of students from the different high schools who participate are required to create a 15 second animation that a black ball (rotoball) enters from the left side of the screen, transforms into a completely different object, and then transforms into the ball again to exit out of the right side of the screen. The students who participate can choose the background and whatever they want the ball to transform into. The deadline for the project is March 20th, 2009 and when all of the animations are sent in they are all compiled into one large animation. The end product is a black ball that travels from scene to scene transforming into a new object in every segment. Pretty cool idea, huh? This projects connects students and schools from many geographic locations from around the world resulting in one large collaborative piece. This year they extended the project to include all grade levels (elementary through college). So browse the webpage and try to watch the 2008 animation of rotoball. It's pretty entertaining and I love seeing what all the high school kids come up with in each new scene.



Blog for 2/20

Hey Friends,

I'm a bit behind on the blog. Here is the one for last week. EEeeeeps!!!

I guess this is more of a problem that may seek a solution? I was thinking of fun collaborative projects for students, but all my mind could trace to were murals. I think murals are wonderful and a beautiful addition to any building, but I want to find something different. A project that still involves a large number of students (lets say 5-8) and involve the arts.

So my question is friends, does anyone have some thoughts on a collaborative project for youth that isn't a mural? That is all my mind seems to go back to. Sigh. Any thoughts or previous experiences with lesson plans help!

Thanks. Mdeesa

More "NO GHost Just a Shell" and Tina's weird reaction

I have no idea why I reacted the way I did to Sara's presentation. I wonder what it is about me and what it is about Mandy that made us react so differently. Things that make me go hmm. . . I just read up a little bit more on the whole "No Ghost Just a Shell" thing and I find it really fascinating. Which is interesting cause when I first read about it in the article it didn't really pique my interest. 

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who said that she can't really get into it when she goes to an art museum. She says she'll read the little card of info next to things that she things are pretty or whatever and will simply pass by the things that she is not attracted to. She says the majority of the museum she will walk through pretty quickly. When I tell her about school and some of the things we talk about in our classes (our 6 hour critiques in Raya's class and our  2 hour conversation about a manga character) she finds it all very weird. 

Like I said when I first read about it, it did not pique my interest but when I listened to Sara's presentation and began to understand what the artists were trying to do with the whole thing it gave me a new appreciation for it and a fascination with it. IT was like I just learned I had a little sister that we lost somehow and she was never given a chance to live a life and now she was dead ! I think I must be crazy reacting this way to a fictional character. 

Anyways now that I have babbled I am excited to see what happens with this first project Farolyn, Mandy and I are doing. I think we have some good first ideas and it is kinda upsetting that we won't have time to try them all. But I think we will take one idea and do a really exciting and informative project. 

I have to say I wasn't sure about taking a class dealing with collaborative art but the more weeks we spend in class, have conversation, and now getting ready for our own projects I am excited and I am actually warming up to this idea of collaboration in the process of art making. 


Hi All,

Since I missed the discussion last week I have to blog my thoughts about it. I find the idea of giving 18 different artists an opportunity to give AnnLee a voice/storyline/life is interesting. To me the intriguing part is what inspired them while designing AnnLee's own unique experience. What made the artist to take the direction they wanted with her, and are they satisfied? To me, AnnLee symbolizes a vessel for creativity and new ideas.

When they had a funeral for her I thought that was a pretty stupid idea. I thought they were just taking the idea of AnnLee too far when they implied that she lived out her life and now needed to rest in peace. I just think it's too extravagant. To me, it seems as though the original artists just do not want to lose control of AnnLee and who uses her image. Huyghe and Parreno, in my humble opinion, wanted to stop other artists from using AnnLee in their artwork who may create spinoffs of their ideas. They wanted to keep AnnLee's image in their own little family of 18-20 artists. To prevent spin off works they chose to have a "funeral" for her that no longer allowed anyone to work with her image. Thats all fine and dandy, but I think they play it off as though they are giving "herself back to herself, " as though they are trying to show compassion and be nobel.

Hah. I sound so cynical, huh?

However, it was interesting to hear Tina's side of the story. She was very touched by the fact that they had a funeral for AnnLee. Tina was now happy that AnnLee could now belong to herself again. She felt as though the artists used and abused AnnLee. She didn't say these sentences word for word but that is the jist of it (I think). Anyway, like I said listening to Tina's reaction did shed some light on the funeral. I could see how it would benefit AnnLee.

I am still sticking to my story that they used the funeral as way to control the use of her image. haha.