Walker Art Center

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8-Ball: Rirkrit Tiravanija

By Paul Schmelzer

Known for exploring new realms of interactivity and aesthetics, Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has cooked meals for gallery visitors, constructed a fully operational auto-body shop within a museum, built his own low-power television studio, and helped found The Land, a collaborative sustainability community near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Winner of the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize, he was featured in the 1995 Walker show Economies: Hans Accola and Rirkrit Tiravanija, was a Walker artist-in-residence from 1996 to 1997, and has a sculpture depicting a rice cooker featured in the current exhibition Urban Cocktail. Tiravanija recently took time to answer some of life’s most—and possibly, least—pressing questions.

What is one of the most unexpected influences on your art?

An art teacher who taught me to tie my shoe string at the young age of five.

What do you wish to have done with your mortal remains when you die?

I hope there is nothing left behind.

What’s your most prized possession, and why do you prize it so?

I haven’t any.

What’s your most vivid memory from your visits to Minneapolis?

Being with Richard [Flood] on a frozen lake, cosmic bowling with Philippe [Vergne], smoking with Kathy [Halbreich], cross-country skiing with Siri [Engberg]—and what was that polka place called?

What are you afraid of?

Myself.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

A grain of salt.

Fill in the blank. What the world needs now is:

An automobile that is powered by water. Should this happen, it’s possible there would be peace on this planet and enough food for everyone to eat and that George W. Bush could no longer make decisions [that] affect people who are smarter than him.

If you could ask one question to every person on Earth, what would it be?

Can you spare a dime?