News — 12 May 2016

Amsterdam, 11 May, 2016 
Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (1961) creates art that explores human social interaction. In Tomorrow is the Question, he will set up a series of chrome ping pong tables and invite the public to participate in his work. Tiravanija has staged exhibitions at venues throughout the world. Tomorrow is the Question (2015)—previously presented in Moscow, Arles, and elsewhere—marks the artist’s debut in Amsterdam. Tiravanija is seen as one of the most influential multimedia artists of his generation. 

With his installation on the Museumplein, Tiravanija blurs the line between art and life. The work playfully confronts traditional ways of viewing art in classic Tiravanija style, as well as the etiquette that goes with it. As an alternative, the artist offers a more theatrical and social—and more enjoyable—experience. Tiravanija sees art as something artist and viewer create together, a process where people can be social beings, preferably outside the rarified realm of the gallery space. “It is not what you see that is important, but what takes place between people,” says Tiravanija. 

The social interaction that Tiravanija pursues with this project has different historical references, from the ping pong matches organized at a gallery in Bratislava as a way of communicating by Slovakian artist Július Koller in the 1970s, to the Ping Pong Diplomacy of the United States during the Cold War period. In 1971, the US organized a ping pong tournament between American and Chinese players, under the motto “Friendship First, Competition Second.” 

Practical information

The work is accessible to everyone and free of charge. Ping pong paddles and balls can be borrowed from a distribution point on Museumplein. 

About the artist 

Rirkrit Tiravanija (1961) was born into a Thai diplomat’s family in Buenos Aires. He was raised in different parts of the world, and currently lives between New York, Chiang Mai, and Berlin. Tiravanija’s installations combine elements of traditional visual (object) art, culinary traditions, sports, public performances and social interaction. Movement is an integral aspect of his oeuvre, and facilitates the activation of new communities, networks, and enduring relationships. In his work, Tiravanija encourages people to become active contributors to culture, rather than passive consumers. He clouds the boundary between public and private by inviting visitors to take tea with him in a replica of his home, serving curry to gallery-goers, and welcoming them to sit at a gigantic picnic table and take part in assembling a jigsaw puzzle. In The Land (an ongoing project begun in 1999), the artist invites participants to create their own artistic, agrarian, or social project on a tract of disused land in Thailand. Tiravanija’s work has been widely exhibited at venues including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, 1997), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1999), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, 2004), Museé de la Ville de Paris (2005), and Kunsthalle Bielefeld (2010). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lucelia Artist Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum's Hugo Boss Prize, and the 2010 Absolut Art Award. Tiravanija is also connected to the Colombia University's School of the Visual Arts, and is a co-founder of the Utopia Station art collective.  

About the Stedelijk and Holland Festival 

In 2015, the Stedelijk Museum and Holland Festival decided to intensify their partnership. Each year, they jointly commission a visual artist working at the interface of visual art and performance in order to present a freely accessible public artwork on Amsterdam’s Museumplein. Last year, New York-based British artist Liam Gillick kicked off this new initiative with All-Imitate-Act, an installation that offered people a chance to immortalize themselves as characters from artworks in the Stedelijk’s collection. The Stedelijk Museum and the Holland Festival also co-commissioned This Variation by Tino Sehgal. By working together, large-scale, expensive productions such as these are made possible. Moreover, it is the mission of both Holland Festival and the Stedelijk Museum to show art in public spaces, thereby making art accessible to as many people as possible. 

Note to editors: 
For more information and images, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum, Annematt Ruseler, +31 (0)20 573 2 660 or