Michael Rakowitz

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Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American artist best known for his conceptual art displayed in non-gallery contexts.[1] He is an associate professor at Northwestern University [2] and is represented in New York by Jane Lombard Gallery.[3]


In Rakowitz's project return he reopens his grandfather's import and export business. The company initially functioned as a drop box. In 2005 it became a packaging center and sorting facility. Members of the Iraqi diaspora community and interested citizens were invited to send things to be shipped free of charge to recipients in Iraq. Rakowitz also wanted to explore the possibility of importing things clearly labeled "Product of Iraq"; he chose dates which were legendary[citation needed] in Iraq, with a yield of over 600 varieties. The first batch he tried to ship died in Syria but the second made its way through different nations and different customs; the dates became a representative for an Iraq refugee traveling to a new life. When they finally made it to Brooklyn there people were eager to try them, this fruit that caused so many problems to get there asked questions and brought up memories.[citation needed]

One of his more notable[citation needed] projects is Enemy Kitchen. The project began in 2004; in it Rakowitz compiles Baghdad recipes with the help of his mother and then teaches them to public audiences. The first time this project was performed was with students who lived in Chelsea and went to the Hudson Guild Community Center. With the project in cooking and eating the food, it opens up the lines of communication allowing, in this case, the students to attach the word Iraq to food as a representative of culture and discuss it. The students discussed the war and compare it to their own lives. Later this project also included a food truck that roamed around Chicago. The food truck itself gives home to the Iraqi ex-pat community and is another way of bringing art down to a level that involves and interacts with people.[4] Rakowitz says, "I see the truck as a potentially healing gesture, not that it has to be. I don't have delusions that it will perform the hard work of healing traumas. I do believe there can be an aesthetic of good intentions, but I'm leery of saying what those are. No, I'm not going to tell anyone it's art."[This quote needs a citation]

Rakowitz about how he sees his art: "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."[This quote needs a citation]


  1. ^ "Michael Rakowitz -- 'Dull Roar'". The New York Times. May 27, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  2. ^ "Michael Rakowitz". Northwestern University. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  3. ^ "Michael Rakowitz". Jane Lombard Gallery. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  4. ^ Michael Rakowitz interview: Enemy Kitchen food truck - tribunedigital-chicagotribune, March 9, 2012, by Christopher Borrelli

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