Rirkrit Tiravanija


untitled 2020 (we are not your pet)


62.5 x 49.7 cm each (artwork)
70.8 x 58.5 x 4 cm each panel (clamshell frame)

Solar dust screenprint and archival digital print on paper; thermochromic screenprint and archival digital print on paper (diptych)

untitled 2020 (we are not your pet) forms part of the Old Masters prints, the starting point for Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Extinction series. They comment on how the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, whose foundation is rooted in empiricism and rationalism, has fueled the nature-culture divide. During this period—coinciding with the ongoing Western colonial conquest—there was an ardent quest for knowledge, carried out through an empirical, science-based lens. Everything that was non-human (and even peoples from colonized lands) was treated as an object, a specimen to be studied, collected and/or displayed. The expansion of knowledge thus fueled the habit and desire to “collect”, while the reduction of the more-than-human world to mere objects diminished their role and agency in the ecology. 
For these prints, Tiravanija appropriates paintings by the Old Masters, removing all traces of living creatures so as to disrupt the narrative presented in these paintings. In place of the missing creatures, extinct or quasi-extinct animals identified by the artist are screen-printed on with solar dust ink, visible only when ultraviolet light is shined on the printed surface. In doing so, Tiravanija spotlights the disappearance of these animals, and how such historical reverberations and ways of seeing may have contributed to our “blindness” and disregard towards the extinction crisis.  
(Edited from excerpts provided by STPI)