Michael Rakowitz

Over the years, Michael Rakowitz has re-opened his grandfather’s import/export business, remade artifacts stolen from the Iraqi National Museum, opened the first Iraqi-Jewish restaurant in the Arab world, served dinner to New Yorkers on Saddam Hussein’s own china, staged an homage to the Beatles’ farewell concert on a roof in Jerusalem, and is now bringing the “Walter Cronkite of Iraq” back to the airwaves after decades of absence. If those things have the air of myth and legend to them, it is no accident (although we promise they are all very, very real). As he says, “As an artistic gesture I try to make an unlikely thing happen, and the impossible becomes possible. It’s art because it’s impossible for this to exist in the world.”

Much of his work in the past decade or so has dealt with Iraq, the country his grandparents fled in 1946, and that the United States invaded in 2003. Plumbing its rich cultural and intellectual history he poetically frames discussions about US-Iraqi relations and the production and aftermath of war, as well as the role of cultural production (among them food, artifacts, popular culture, music, and other media) in the formation and perpetuation of identity. His work at the interstices of social practice, installation, and performance, has been presented at venues such as dOCUMENTA (13), MoMA, 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennial, Yokohama Triennial, Sharjah Biennial, Tate Modern, Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Creative Time, among others. He is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University, Chicago and a Visiting Artist at the International Art Academy of Palestine, Ramallah.

Last updated: Dec 14, 2016