Tobias Putrih engages 20th century avant-gardes, particularly utopian and visionary concepts of architecture and design, through a range of conceptual and materially ephemeral projects. He designs makeshift architectural modifications of public spaces—cinemas, a library, galleries, and a university commons—constructing temporary environments out of paper, cardboard, plywood, monofilament, and light. Sculptures are made of fugitive materials such as soap bubble membranes, or through precise handling of everyday manufactured materials like Styrofoam and cardboard. His sculptures are products of precisely specified processes while also responding to their sites; some sculpture is problematized as furniture to be moved and inhabited, privileging bodily engagement over vision. Putrih deals with artworks as proposals, maquettes, or models—exploratory assertions of radical possibilities, the idea of the monument reconceptualized as something momentary and experimental.
Putrih’s solo projects conceived in collaboration with MOS architects were presented at Museum Boijmans Van Beunigen, Rotterdam; BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Wexner Center, Columbus and MIT List Center, Cambridge. His larger installations include an exhibition at Espace315 at Centre Pompidou, Paris and at Capella MACBA, Barcelona; and collaborations with filmmaker Runa Islam at Galeria Civica in Modena and Kunsthaus, Zurich. Group exhibitions include TRACK, S.M.A.K., Ghent; Forms of Resistance, VanAbbe Museum, Eindhoven; Manifesta 4, Frankfurt and 29th Sao Paulo Biennale. In 2007 he represented Slovenia at the Venice Biennale. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’ Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; and Museum Boijmans Van Beunigen, Rotterdam, among other institutions.