Born 1969, Los Angeles, California; lives in Paris, France

Although they are from different generations and their practices are located at opposite ends of the artistic spectrum, Mark di Suvero and Rirkrit Tiravanija share a belief in art’s potential for effecting social change. Di Suvero’s sculptures made from steel construction beams often contain elements that invite viewer interaction; in 1986 he founded Socrates Sculpture Park, in Queens, New York, as a place for young artists and the local community to work together. Tiravanija’s practice also opens up the possibility for social dialogue. In the cooking events for which he is best known, he prepares Thai food for visitors; and in 1998, he established, with fellow Thai artist Kamin Lerdchaiprasert, “The Land,” an experimental project in self-sufficient living in northern Thailand.

For the 2006 Biennial, di Suvero and Tiravanija collaborate to reconceive the Artists’ Tower for Peace, first constructed in Los Angeles in 1966 to protest the war in Vietnam. Organized by the Artists’ Protest Committee, the original tower was designed by di Suvero and erected on a vacant lot on the corner of La Cienega and Sunset boulevards. Dismantled and dispersed at the end of its three-month lease, today it is a largely forgotten event in the history of art and activism. The nearly 60-foot-high multicolored steel structure was an experiment in effective political protest that sought new ways to organize in a nonhierarchical fashion and to create a media spectacle. More than four hundred 2-foot-square artworks (participating artists included Elaine de Kooning, Leon Golub, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, and Mark Rothko, among many others) were displayed, democratically, on a 100-foot-long billboard wall that stretched around the tower. As an event, the tower became a target of organized attacks by angry opponents while also attracting wider media and public attention.

In many respects, Peace Tower (2006) remains true to the spirit of its predecessor: following Tiravanija’s reconception of the project, di Suvero redesigned and constructed the steel tower, which rises out of the Museum’s courtyard well; some 300 artists, including those involved in the original tower, were invited to contribute 2-foot-square panels to hang on the walls of the well and on the tower itself. Peace Tower provides an opportunity to step back momentarily from the bustle of the rest of the exhibition and to reflect on the wider social issues presented therein. ESM

MA/PV more about this artist in the Biennial Catalogue

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Artists’ Tower for Peace, 1966. Steel and mixed media, 55 ft. (16.8 m). Installed Los Angeles