If there’s one thing to say about Creative Time, it’s that the non-profit have put together some of the most memorable public art moments in the history of New York City. Kara Walker’s Marvelous Sugar Baby at the legendary Domino Sugar Factory, Nick Cave’s Grand Central HEARD•NY takeover, their dreamy Central Park art stroll Drifting in Daylight, and the Far Rockaway artist sandcastle competition are all Creative Time moments, and that’s just a few of them. It’s obvious that Creative Time is obviously excellent at matching the right artist with the right corner of the city, but the organization also masters engaging the public and provoking social progress via their fun but enlightening events. Today, they are having their annual gala at the Brooklyn Navy Yards where they are, appropriately, honoring artist Rirkrit Tiravanija—an artist known for “bringing people together,” as noted by art historian Rochelle Steiner.
Tiravanija, the New York–and–Chiang Mai–based Thai artist, became famous in 1992 when he made Untitled 1992 (Free), a sculpture–performance–guerrilla action wherein he emptied out the office of the 303 Gallery in Soho and installed a makeshift kitchen, complete with fridge, hot plates, rice steamers, tables, and stools. He then cooked Thai curry; anyone could drop in, serve him- or herself, and eat. For free. Back then, it was disconcerting and thrilling to be this casual in a gallery, to go from passive viewing to active participation. With this simple gesture, Tiravanija seemed to bridge a mind-body gap that often exists in Western art.