Michael Rakowitz is the recipient of the 2020 Public Art Dialogue (PAD) Award for achievement in the field of public art!
Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American artist who currently lives and works in Chicago. Rooted in socio-politically motivated conceptual art, social practice and relational aesthetics, his work is part of permanent collections in numerous institutions, and he has been exhibited worldwide, including at DOCUMENTA (13), MoMA PS1 , MassMOCA, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, and the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennials, in addition to solo shows. In 1998, Rakowitz developed one of his most notable early works, paraSITE, for which he designed custom inflatable tents for the homeless that connected to existing outtake vents on the exteriors of buildings. Enemy Kitchen (2003-ongoing) is a project mounted in Chicago and elsewhere in which Baghdadi food, sometimes served by Iraq War veterans and cooked by Iraqi refugee chefs, serves as a conduit for conversations on conflict and culture. In 2018, Rakowitz was selected to create an installation in London’s Trafalgar Square for the Fourth Plinth project. The invisible enemy should not exist (2007-ongoing) is a full-scale recreation of a 700 BCE lamassu (stone statue/deity that guarded the gates of the ancient city of Nineveh) destroyed by Daesh terrorists in 2015. The sculpture, comprised of 10,000 empty Iraqi date syrup cans, is just one of the many works Rakowitz has developed as part of a larger project to re-create the approximately 7,000 objects looted from the Iraq Museum following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Rakowitz’s recent actions, aimed at a critique of cultural institutions and their philanthropic ties, have quickly gained international attention, including his request earlier this year that PS1 pause his video installation, RETURN (2004-ongoing), in protest of two MoMA board members’ investments in private prison and defense industries. The ongoing back and forth between Rakowitz and the museum, which ignored his request, has turned a spotlight on the accountability of the institution and its stakeholders.
Rakowitz has been honored with many awards, including (but not limited to) the 2020 Nasher Prize for Sculpture, a 2012 Tiffany Foundation Award, a 2008 Creative Capital Grant, and a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures.
Please join us in honoring Michael Rakowitz during the 108th CAA Annual Conference in Chicago at a ceremony and reception at the DePaul Museum of Art on Thursday, February 13 from 6:00-7:30 PM. The event is sponsored by PAD and Taylor & Francis.
The PAD award for achievement in the field of public art is given annually to an individual whose contributions have greatly influenced public art practice. Awardees are chosen from nominations made by PAD members.
Image: Michael Rakowitz, "The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu)," 2018. Trafalgar Square, London, 2018. Middle eastern food packaging and newspapers, glue, labels, sound, drawings. Photo credit: "190101 1937," by steeljam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0