For me, subversiveness is a problematic term because it's one of those kinds of words we use habitually. I think that's just the legacy of modernism. Impressionists were the first generation of modernists. Before them, the Realists, like Courbet, were completely subversive. In a sense, Modernism is a history of successive subversions: Impressionists followed by Fauvists and then Dada and Fluxus. It's also a kind of a patricidal, Oedipal kind of struggle, that you always have to subvert what comes before you. As this history of subversion accumulates like geological strata, at which point can you not subvert any more? At which point do you come back to the original point? I like to think that Rirkrit's work is completely aware of all the subversions that have happened and tries, perhaps, to swim in it. There's an incredible amount of respect and admiration in it, but it's on a very personal and intimate level. Duchamp and Joseph Beuys and Marcel Broodthaers, all these figures are, in a sense for him, not like statues of Lenin or Saddam that need to be toppled, but are instead more like living spirits that he communes with.
At work today, I posted an interview with curator Doryun Chong on a recent Walker installation by Rirkrit Tiravanija, a "space-stage" inspired by Viennese architect Friedrich Kiesler's Raumbühne. The structure hosted a range of activities during the run of the exhibition, from karaoke battles (below) to a teen "un-prom" fashion show and a primer on surveillance by the Revolutionary Party. A taste:
at 7:05 PM