Rirkrit Tiravanija was born in Buenos Aires in 1961. He received his BA from the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, in 1984, and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986. From 1985 to 1986, he participated in the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York.
Tiravanija is best known for his intimate, participatory installations that revolve around personal and shared communal traditions, such as cooking Thai meals. At the forefront of the shift in avant-garde art practices in the 1990s, moving away from more traditional art objects and toward “relational aesthetics” that incorporate diverse cultural spaces, practices, and temporalities, Tiravanija has continually challenged and expanded the social dimension of art, inviting people from all walks of life to inhabit the special and personal spaces that he constructs..
Through his real-time experiences, Tiravanija often addresses broader social and political concerns, such as protest movements against the Thai government, that go largely unaddressed in Western media. Over the course of his thirty-year career, he has also come to incorporate into his art and installations a wide variety of media, including painting, printmaking, video, photography, mixed-media assemblage, and music.
Tiravanija has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions. He was the subject of two major retrospectives in the 2000s: Nothing: A Retrospective, at Chiang Mai University Art Museum, Thailand, in 2004, and A Retrospective (tomorrow is another fine day), which was presented simultaneously at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2004 to 2005, and later at the Serpentine Gallery, London, in 2005. His work was featured in the Venice Biennale in 1993, 1999, 2011, and 2015. He also exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial in 2006, and the Whitney Biennial in 1995 and 2006. At the 2012 Paris Triennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Tiravanija presented Soup/No Soup (2011–2012), a twelve-hour banquet that was open to all visitors at the Grand Palais.
Among his many awards and honors, Tiravanija was the recipient of the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.