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press: Rirkrit Tiravanija Would Prefer Not To

His new retrospective at MoMA PS1 celebrates avoiding making art.

By Carl Swanson, New York Magazine's editor-at-large

Rirkrit Tiravanija is an artist without a studio. “I don’t have those expenses and overheads,” he tells me. So he takes what he calls his “studio visits” at Cafe Mogador, the venerably bohemian Moroccan restaurant on St. Marks Place in the East Village. “My favorite place,” he says. Mogador opened in 1983, the same year Rirkrit — everyone just calls him that; the middle r is not pronounced — moved to New York from Toronto, where he had gone to art school. He signed a lease for $290 a month on the same four-room rent-stabilized apartment on East 7th Street, between Avenues B and C, that he still has today (he also has homes in Berlin and his native Thailand). He has kept his costs low ever since, which has enabled him, rare among artists of his renown — a biennial fixture with museum shows around the world who has taught at Columbia for more than 20 years — to be mostly free from having to make art, at least the type that rich people invest in. “I could hit all the right notes,” he says of making expensive objects. “I’d rather not.”...