Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gordon Matta-Clark. A quick introduction.

Posted by Alicia Butler.

A business establishment where meals or refreshments may be purchased.

Gordon Matta-Clark’s experiment, Food, was more of an artists’ commune than a restaurant as it was not a profitable business. In fact, Matta Clark’s then girlfriend, Caroline Goodden, nearly lost all of her money keeping the establishment afloat. Although not classified as an underground supper club at the time, Food started out as a sometimes legal, sometimes illegal dinner party that was a mixture of art and food. Matta-Clark gathered friends and fellow artists to his suppers, usually located in apartments and lofts in Manhattan. It was apparent that he was primarily an artist, and not a cook by trade. Many of his dishes were inedible and he only served them to create a reaction within the space. Food soon took shape in a defunct Puerto Rican restaurant located on 112 Greene Street in SoHo. Many artists used this building not only as a commune to meet other artists with similar ideas, but as a venue in which to display their talents. They would take turns cooking whatever they knew how to make and served up their creations to customers who rarely paid for their meals and when they did, they paid a pittance for what they ate. The artists that worked at Food were able to reconstruct the idea of the restaurant business in New York and undermine the social structure that inevitably followed the industry. By charging very little (and sometimes nothing at all) Matta-Clark found a way to challenge the formal restaurant structure of the 1970’s. Food was sold in 1974 and was finally shut down in the 80’s.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rirkrit Tiravanija-Life as a Pot

Posted by Alicia Butler.

Rirkrit Tiravanija cooks for thousands of people each year. For free. He has cooked for some of the world’s top curators, art dealers, gallery owners, and museum directors. However, the majority of the population he serves for turns out to be the general public. He has traveled through Spain on a bike he invented that boasts a hotplate attached to the handlebars, cooking up steaming pots of curry and offering it to anyone he passes. He has traveled with his shows “Untitled” and “Untitled (Still)” serving up to 2,700 meals during the course of each of their runs and has not charged a single person. He has been able to sell some of his pots, pans, spoons, and anything else leftover from one of his gallery shows to some of New York’s elite to supplement his income, however, the food remains free.

Tiravanija focuses on an idea I like to call, “life as a pot.” The pot is not only what cooks the food but also what spurs the ideas, emotions, feelings, and anything else that happens to come up in life. The idea is not to focus on the object of the pot itself, but the activity that happens around it.

The pot in his gallery shows often bubbles and hisses with traditional Thai food. It creates a smell, a taste, and a memory. Anyone can go. You might see a blue-collar worker rubbing elbows with a politician and later speaking to the head curator from the Guggenheim. It creates a conversation that may not have existed had Tiravanija not been cooking that day. Tiravanija also believes life is like the pot he uses to cook his food. While he uses food in the gallery to create these experiences he also uses the internet to create websites with a pot-like setting where people can exchange ideas about any aspect of life, thus, “cooking” their own feelings and emotions.

So whereas with enough money you can physically buy the pots, pans, utensils, and leftover spices from one of Tiravanija’s shows, you cannot buy the experience that happened there.

Upcoming exhibitions:
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
October 24, 2008–January 7, 2009

Rikrit Tiravanija: Demonstration Drawings
The Drawing Center
September 12-Novenber 6, 2008