This week on
Mixtape Volume. 0003

This week I invite you to read about an epiphany I had whilst witnessing Rirkrit Taravanjia’s tribute to Enzo Mari at the Enzo Mari exhibition in London’s Design Museum. 

Epiphany on the Artist’s Work: Enzo Mari and Rirkrit Tiranvanjia

Reflections on the Enzo Mari exhibition in London’s Design Museum, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli May - September 2024

At the end of my journey through the Enzo Mari exhibition at the Design Museum, I fell upon a series of objects that would trigger an epiphany.

Untitled (2020), Rirkrit Tiravanjia’s installation consists of blue puzzle boxes piled atop a stainless steel shelving unit, benches and table - all glistening. In front of me, splayed across the metal table, were the pieces from an open box, inviting me to sit down and make my attempt at solving the puzzle.

Shot on my iPhone

This is impossible, I was intimidated by the amount of blank space of which a majority of puzzle pieces made up. But then I saw that in the bottom right hand corner of the guiding image (what the completed puzzle should look like) that there was a small corner of text that would be a good starting point for the puzzle. I noticed some previous visitors must have thought similarly and put three or so pieces in that region together, I could build on that. Searching, I found 3 more pieces in that neighbourhood and connected them to the work of my predecessors - I felt proud - I was making progress.

I stared at the remaining pieces, hundreds, most of which were filled with blank blue space - I tried - but it was clear to me that it was unthinkable to even attempt to finish this puzzle. Eventually, I began gathering some pieces that I felt might be connected, wondering to what end this task would lead. I knew that I did not have the time to even figure out this small section I was attempting to assemble. Then, the epiphany: perhaps it was always silly for my goal to be to solve the puzzle, but rather it is and always necessitated a long line of people to work together. I realised that even though I could not physically finish this puzzle - having put the few pieces I could together and collecting some connected ones, I could leave the table knowing that I might have made it easier for the next curious person to make their attempt at this game.

I say and narrate this because earlier on that morning I shed tears over breakfast, feeling frankly deflated at what seems like the banal and unforgiving effort that is required to be an artist. I had no clue that attempting to figure out this puzzle would help me understand my tears. Perhaps my attempt on that metal bench, that very small thing, is what artists do. Artists are tasked with putting things together, connecting some of the dots about what this experience on Earth is about in the hope that, though not one alone can solve the mystery, horror and joy that is this existence, perhaps we can make it easier for those coming after, through building on the work of those before.

Truly, I have no idea of if/how/when the puzzle will be completed and I highly doubt that it can be, but what I do know is that my attempt is an expression of faith an indicator of hope and will make it easier for the next person who sits down. It is a small display of faith that it might be possible to someday complete it, and the same way those first 3 connected pieces gave me hope it can make others hopeful. Therein, lies something deeply human.

I wonder about who will sit at the bench next, and if they will build on the pieces I put together. Maybe they’ll start from another spot and someone else later on will join them together. To echo a long postcard (2020), Dominique Gonzales-Foerster’s text-based response to Enzo Mari, “perhaps love is taking two or three steps in the same direction.” is an online portfolio and mixtape updated regularly by the artist.