Rirkrit Tiravanija is best known as the artist who served a free meal to anyone coming into his exhibition UNTITLED, 1992 (FREE) at 303 Gallery, New York. As gallerygoers ate and socialized, they became participants in the artist’s installation, which invited people to experience something familiar, such as eating, in a space typically reserved for viewing art. In October 1996, he began a yearlong artist-in-residence project with Walker staff and 16 high school seniors from the Minnesota Center for Arts Education (MCAE). The students worked collaboratively with Tiravanija on the production of the artist book CATALOGUE (BACK OF POSTCARD READS) MEMORIES (1997), a commission that investigates the personal memories of visitors to the ECONOMIES exhibition.
The starting point for this “catalogue of memories” grew from the understanding that the people who interact with Tiravanija’s work are integral to it. The MCAE students interviewed Walker staff members involved with ECONOMIES and both local and national individuals who had seen the show. They recorded these responses and their own through photography, video, audiotape, writing, and drawing, and then gathered them together as a series of postcards that make up one component of Tiravanija’s multipart catalogue.
Tiravanija’s engagement with the Walker led to the museum’s commitment to collect his past and future multiples.