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Announcement
March 10, 2016

Social & Studio Conversations: Michael Rakowitz

Moore College of Art & Design
Michael Rakowitz, Enemy Kitchen, 2006–ongoing. Performance, Hudson Guild Community Center, New York. Courtesy the artist and Lombard Freid Gallery.

Presented by Graduate Studies at Moore’s Social & Studio Practices department in collaboration with The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, this event is part of Mural Arts’ ongoing muraLAB event series.

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 York diners 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. “As an artistic gesture I try to make an unlikely thing happen, and the impossible becomes possible,” Rakowitz has said about his work. “It’s art because it’s impossible for this to exist in the world.”

Much of the artist’s work in the past decade has dealt with Iraq, the country his grandparents fled in 1946 and that the United States invaded in 2003. Plumbing Iraq’s rich cultural and intellectual history, Rakowitz poetically frames discussions about U.S.-Iraqi relations and the production and aftermaths 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 latest project, A Desert Home Companion, produced with The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, uses a similar strategy of narrative collusion and allegorical realism. Realized in Philadelphia, the project will bring the broadcaster Bahjat Abdulawahed together with other Iraqi refugees and Iraq War veterans in the production of a large-scale performance on Independence Mall, and a serialized radio program to be broadcast and podcast internationally. Rakowitz will reflect on the trajectory of his work, and be joined by various collaborators—individual performers, as well members of local agencies and nonprofits that work on refugee and veteran issues—to speak about the development of this multivalent participatory project.

Michael Rakowitz’s work has been presented at venues such as dOCUMENTA (13),Kassel; MoMA, New York; 16th Biennale of Sydney, Australia; the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennial; Yokohama Triennial, Japan; Sharjah Biennial, UAE; Tate Modern, London; Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem; and Creative Time, New York; 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.

Major support for A Desert Home Companion has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Moore College of Art & Design is dedicated to excellence in art and design. Founded in 1848, Moore is the first and only visual arts college for women in the United States. Through its undergraduate bachelor of fine arts degrees for women and its coeducational graduate programs, Moore cultivates creativity, promotes scholarship and prepares its students for professional careers in the arts by emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, risk-taking, and strong communication skills. Moore is dedicated to producing graduates that distinguish themselves as leaders in their fields. Moore’s Social and Studio Practices department was inaugurated in the summer of 2015 to incorporate two new graduate degrees: the MA in Social Engagement and the MFA in Community Practice that would expand on the work developed by the MFA in Studio Art program established five years earlier. The program is unique in its fusion of making, research and action with the subject of place in contemporary art.

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