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Rirkrit Tiravanija- “Untitled (free)” 1992/2007

March 10, 2010

Untitled (Free)


1992: Vegetables, Rice, Stools, Refrigerator, Cooking Utensils

2007: Vegetables, Rice, Stools, Refrigerator, Cooking Utensils, Remains of 1992 exhibition, Plywood

“Untitled (Free)” pictured here in its 2002 recreation, was first exhibited in 1992 at 89 Greene Street, NYC in the former 303 Gallery Space. For the work, he stripped the gallery, and relocated the bathroom, kitchen, and office making them the central features of his display. He then set up a kitchen and served vegetarian green Thai curry to visitors. In 2002, he constructed a plywood replica of the 1992 space in the David Zwiner gallery where he displayed the stools, utensils, kitchen supplies, and even food refuse he had saved from its original exhibition. On opening night, massive amounts of green curry were served (see above), and throughout the exhibition’s installation rice was made daily and available for self-service to visitors. Exploring art as a mode of creating social interactions, encounters, and situations in its first creation, “Untitled (Free)” in its re-presentation asks how art experiences can be preserved and communicated across time. Tiravanija’s work, influenced by the social sculpture of Joseph Beuys, and the happenings of Fluxus, often takes the form of rooms or interventions for sharing experience. His pieces are often described as part of the relational art movement, defined by French philosopher and art critic Nicolas Bourriaud.

Spicy Vegetarian South-East Asian Green Curry

This recipe offers a means for the (re)creation of “Untitled (free)” using the photos from 2002 to approximate ingredients. Cook and share with friends and strangers, perhaps over a piquant discussion of relational art.

Serves 6-8



  • 2 stalk lemongrass, sliced finely
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 6 tablespoons. vegetarian fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 6 green chillies, deseeded
  • 2 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and sliced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (fresh, frozen, in a jar, or dried), snipped into strips or small pieces with scissors
  • 1 loose cup fresh coriander leaves and stems
  • 3 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (use from 2 cans listed below)


  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 cans good-quality coconut milk
  • 2 packages firm tofu cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 cups cauliflower
  • 2 cups snow peas
  • 2 cups fresh holy (or sweet) basil, chopped roughly
  • 1 large yam or sweet potato, cubed


  • 3 cups short- or medium-grain Asian white rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water

To make the green curry paste, place all paste ingredients in a food processor. Add the coconut milk (enough to keep the blades going). Process until smooth.

Place oil in wok or deep frying pan. Turn heat on medium-high and add paste. Stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add coconut milk. Add tofu and stir until everything is well mixed. Add kaffir lime leaves and cover. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, cauliflower and yam or sweet potato. Cover and cook another 10-20 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Add snow peas, stir, and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes. Do a taste test for salt and spice. If not salty enough, add up to 2 tablespoons. more vegetarian fish sauce, soy sauce, or sea salt. If too salty, add a little fresh lime juice. It should be quite spicy. If too spicy, add more coconut milk until desired mildness is reached. Place on a serving platter or in a large serving bowl, keep warm. Sprinkle with fresh basil when ready to serve.

While cooking curry, rinse rice in a fine-mesh sieve until water is almost clear. Drain well and transfer to a 3-quart heavy saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover tightly with lid, then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Gently fold rice from top to bottom with a spatula before serving.

Serve curry and rice family style in large serving bowls.

Please respond in the comments box to the recipe, the art, and your experience of consuming the artwork.

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