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Arts

Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “Bamboo Maze” – A Mindful Respite With Tea Delight

Should you decide to go atop National Gallery Singapore, you would be greeted by an incredible canopy of bamboo scaffolding. A stark contrast to the modern architecture of the Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden surrounding it, internationally renowned artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, presents it as his largest bamboo maze installation to date.

Named “untitled 2018 (the infinite dimensions of smallness)”, the immersive installation stands at a towering four-meters high, with its inspiration an elegant combination of materials, craftwork, and architecture from across Asia. The maze itself references traditional hand-built bamboo scaffolding – commonplace in Thailand, where Rirkrit spent most of his growing years – with an unassuming wooden hut in its heart.

While unassuming on the outside, the wooden Tea House has a charmingly, intimate interior.

Slide open the doors on this humble structure, and you will be greeted by with the intimate interior, of a Japanese tea house. Those lucky enough would have their experience enhanced by Mai Ueda, who brings one’s attention to tea’s rich culture, with her own performance of the centuries-old, Tea Ceremony.

When asked about the incorporation of the tea ceremony, Tiravanija mentioned: “I look at tea and coffee as a medicinal elixir.” Going further to tell of the legend where a monk’s robe was used to create an enclosure to shelter the Buddha, as he served tea to followers.

Japanese performance artist, Mai Ueda – the Tea Master collaborating with Rirkrit.

Deceptively simple, Rirkrit’s artistic focus on participatory works that blur the line between art and its audiences, is further accentuated by his incorporation of spacial awareness and the gesture of hospitality.

As Tiravanija puts it, “I like to make work where I don’t have to tell people what to do. I want people who come to just be themselves.” By devising and provoking human encounters in the spaces of the bamboo maze and teahouse, he encourages visitors to pause, make time, and create new experiences away from the hustle and bustle of it all.

A visitor taking a stroll through the bamboo maze – essentially, becoming part of the artwork, as Rirkrit intended.

Having lived in various countries – such as Buenos Aires, Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada, to name a few – his works reflect the constant negotiation between diverse cultures, as he constructs communal environments that draw audiences to be part of his work.

His most iconic work in 1992, “Untitled (Free)” transformed spaces in museums and galleries worldwide into a place of communion where he served rice and Thai curry to visitors, thereby creating temporary but meaningful bonds between him and his audience.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, giving an inside to what he hopes visitors would come to experience through his installation.

Complementing Rirkrit’s second major solo project here in Singapore,  is a diverse range of interdisciplinary public programmes including tea ceremonies by Japanese performance artist Mai Ueda, Rirkrit Day with a colloquium, screening of the documentary on the making of the installation, and various performances, that we have detailed for you, below!

Take time some time out from now till 28 October 2018, to navigate through the bamboo maze: encountering the various ceramics and knick-knacks along the way, the wooden teahouse located at its center, and along the way, priceless interactions with others like you. Here it from the artist himself here:

Programme Details

Admission to the Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery is free! For more information, click here!

TEA GATHERING BY MAI UEDA

  • Sat – Sun 27 – 28 Jan
  • 2–5pm (30mins per session)
  • Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery

Immerse yourself in the art and beauty of a contemporary tea ceremony with artist Mai Ueda. Ueda makes use of these ceremonies to reflect on globalisation, and to bring people together to share knowledge in fresh and innovative ways!

SUNDAY TEA CEREMONIES

  • Sun 4 Feb, 4 Mar, 1 Apr, 6 May, 3 Jun, 1 Jul, 5 Aug, 2 Sep, 7 Oct
  • 2–6pm
  • Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery

On the first Sunday of the month, enjoy the rare experience of a tea ceremony held within the installation.

STUDENT RESPONSES

  • Sat 7 Apr & Sat 19 May
  • 3–4pm
  • Various locations in National Gallery Singapore

The first session will have art and dance students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts present a series of movement pieces choreographed for different spaces in the Gallery. While the second session will have students from School of The Art’s Department of Music present compositions inspired by Tiravanija’s relational, experimental and performative art practice.

RIRKRIT DAY

  • Sat 16 Jun
  • 11am–7.30pm
  • Various locations in National Gallery Singapore

Delve deeper into Rirkrit Tiravanija’s practice through a day of exciting programmes. Hear the artist and international experts discuss his collaborative approach to art through relational aesthetics and architecture; watch a film on the making of the commission; participate in tea ceremonies and view his other works on display in the Gallery. The day closes with the official launch of the exhibition catalogue.

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Danish Lukawski

Founder of DANAMIC.ORG - Just a guy with three cat-kids, always messing around with computer code, and addicted to capturing too many photos.

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