Last summer at Art Basel, championed Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija unveiled the first prototype of an awe-inspiring structure as part of his interactive installation DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY. Tiravanija, a recipient of multiple awards, used this platform to serve us an amuse-bouche, if you will, of what’s to come.
Located in Northern Thailand and initiated by artists Tiravanija and Kamin Lertchaiprasert, “the studio residency at the land” serves as as a collaborative space for workshops, screenings, discussions and artist residencies. Following their successful Kickstarter campaign, they have since raised over $90,000. The elegantly adapted project, spearheaded by Frankfurt-based architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller, will be the first permanent structure at the land foundation — and home to an artist’s residency program sensitive to the local community. The objective here is to be instrumental in the sustainability of the agricultural retreat and also encourage the public, young and old, to come together to live and create a sustainable living environment.
Renowned Istanbul-based curator and jury member of the Crowdfunding Initiative Mari Spirito talks in depth with project pioneer Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Mari Spirito: First off, congratulations on your successful campaign to raise funds for the land foundation’s new structure. The jury was very excited about this initiative — as a residency based on principles of civic engagement, it is a very unique platform — and it’s been wonderful to see the project develop and grow.
For readers who may be less familiar with the foundation, can you tell us a bit more about the project and how it all began? What is your vision for this place?
Rirkrit Tiravanija: The land was initiated through many discussions between artist friends. Kamin Lerdchaiprasert the co-founder of the land was interested in initiating a retirement home for artists, and I was with some friends in the west, in discussion about realizing a “safe house” for artists to get away from the art circuit. Ultimately we wanted to create a retreat from the grind, a place to rest and think, a place to meet, a place for discussion and a living platform where ideas can be exchanged at a time and pace which can be contemplative and percolate
Thailand was a good place to realize such an idea because, as a place without an established arts infrastructure, it was in many ways easier to start from the ground up to create something new. The land is located in the northern part of Thailand, 20 km southwest of the city of Chiang Mai.
The land is an open space used for cultivation of rice, vegetables, and certain forms of sustenance and sustainability. While the land is inherently a rice field and a garden, freely accessible to all, it also supports architectural constructions that may be utilized in a variety of ways: from shelters for sleeping to kitchens for cooking to platforms for lectures or performances. It is intended to be a space free of ownership, an environment conducive to discussions and experimentation in the fields of culture, or conversely solitude and reflection. On the social field of the land, artistic practices are discussed and tested. A hybrid of innovation and traditionalism, the land juxtaposes contemporary materials and technologies with ancient forms of practice.
The most recent project at the land is a structure that comprises studios, workshop space, and shelter, designed by architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller. This new structure will be shipped to Thailand where it will form the basis for a new workshop building that will host a range of artistic projects including artist residencies, workshops, and seminars.
MS: It was such a treat to directly introduce the land and the initial steps of your new structure to a global audience during Art Basel this past June as part of your installation DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY. I understand the structure is meant to be a space for various activities, such as residencies and workshops. Will these be ongoing activities? Can people actually stay and live at the land for a longer period of time? And how do you engage with the local community?
RT: Yes, presently Nico Dockx is working on a bridge, which again is only realized through the participation of many people on different levels of engagements. Alicia Framis, who created her initial contribution for ‘Utopia Station’ at the Venice Biennale in 2003, will also realize her contribution to the land, with a small house. Superflex has a redesign Supergas (biogas) unit which we anticipate will go into production in the next year, and Tobias Rehberger will re-renovate his small house contribution. We have a range of visitors including people who come for day trips, overnight campers, students doing research or creating a project, or groups who apply to come and stay in the “one year program” residency.
MS: You refer to the new structure as an “exquisite corpse” – what does this term refer to?
RT: Reminiscent of a surrealist “exquisite corpse”—a work that begins with a single contribution and continues to grow step-by-step—different architects, engineers, and artists will be invited to participate in this unusual assemblage as a collective work. The structure itself will be constructed through a series of sessions, mirroring the idea of a permanent workshop. In each step, one spatial element will be added: foundation, structure, façade, energy, services, and interiors.
MS: So what will happen next, how do you plan to inaugurate the new structure at the land? Will some of the backers of your campaign come and visit the land?
RT: The structure will be shipped to the land in February and it will take around 2 to 3 months to build it up. Every backer of the campaign is welcome to visit the land and to be part of the process.