“DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” at Luma, Arles
Do we dream under the same sky? In 2017, Arles enjoyed 2847 hours of sunshine, almost 40 percent more than the French national average. This fact gains particularly significance in the context of DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY, a large-scale installation created by the conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija in collaboration with the architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller.
Five large parabolic solar ovens give this resolutely low-tech installation an intriguing futuristic appearance. Solar light is focused directly onto the cooking pots that are positioned in the centre of the ovens, providing the energy to heat their contents without recourse to additional power and in particular avoiding the use of fossil-fuel based energy. “In Arles,” explains Nikolaus Hirsch, “the sun shines so brightly that we’ve experienced much shorter cooking times than elsewhere.” This installation was first presented at Art Basel, Switzerland in 2015 and then at Denmark’s ARoS Triennial in Aarhus in 2017. Both locations would be poor contenders if competing with Provence in terms of sunshine hours.
It is therefore beneath the balmy skies of Arles that visitors to the Parc des Ateliers can meander through the Forges Courtyard this summer, to relax, daydream and soak up the ambience of the space. “DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” invites visitors to partake in a moment of conviviality at the end of each afternoon, sampling a dish cooked in the solar oven. The daily routine is simple: food preparation gets underway at 2 pm, the afternoon sunshine then works its magic, after which, between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm, members of the public can freely help themselves to the results (hopefully leaving enough for those who come after them). Diners then wash up their own dishes in sinks located at the edge of the four central islands that form the communal dining area. For the creators of the installation, the unusual idea of eating a meal and doing washing up in the middle of an artwork is to facilitate interaction between visitors. And it works: during the ‘Luma Days’ in May, when “DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” was first presented at the Parc des Ateliers, complete strangers got talking to one another while lining up for food or washing up, discussing a diversity subjects at length.
The installation is an example of Relational aesthetics, a contemporary art movement defined by the French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud in 1998, which puts human interaction at the centre
of the artwork. In other words, “DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” aims to promote social interaction between visitors. The unfettered charm of the installation certainly entices people to linger. The bamboo pavilion houses an open-air kitchen and communal dining area — both made of bamboo — and a herb garden whose planters are filled with thyme, parsley, mint, rosemary, hyssop and five varieties of basil.
These are used to fragrance the dishes designed by Rirkrit Tiravanija and created by the chef Armand Arnal. It is hard to imagine a more simple pleasure than whiling away an afternoon in this open-air pavilion, watching the dappled shade of the bamboo roof gaining ground as the sun recedes and enjoying a Korean kimchi ratatouille or a Camargue rice dish with a Thai twist…
A pleasure all the less guilty in the knowledge that many of these dishes are made using surplus produce from a local organic grower.
“DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” is a new version of an ongoing project, The Land, which Tiravanija is developing with his compatriot Kamin Lertchaiprasert in Thailand. On an agricultural plot not far from Chiang Mai, a utopia is materializing: that of an “ownerless” territory where artistic practice and rice cultivation, innovation and tradition coexist sustainably. The artists and architects Philippe Parreno, Tobias Rehberger and François Roche have already built structures on the site; what is lacking, however, is a living and working space that can accommodate residents for several days or weeks. Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller envisage this studio developing according to the Surrealist “exquisite corpse” principle: each of its components — the foundations, walls, services (kitchen, bathroom) and roof — to be designed by a different person, and independently of the others.
The bamboo open-air pavilion and dining areas of “ DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY” can be considered as prototypes of two of the components of this as — yet unrealised “exquisite corpse” in Thailand. According to Nikolaus Hirsch, The Land studio may open as soon as next year.
at Luma, Arles
until 23 September 2018