DUBAI: The Jameel Arts Center in Dubai recently hosted an exhibition of work by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz. It is the artist’s first solo exhibition in the Middle East and Asia, although he previously took part in the Sharjah Biennial during 2007.
“Coming back to the Middle East makes me feel like I am engaging with the texture of the memories of my grandparents that I would hear about,” Rakowitz told Arab News. “Being able to show in Dubai is meaningful to me. It’s one of several cities where I have been able to work with people who activate and mobilize some of these materials, stories and memories around Iraq not just as simple nostalgia but as something that is a proposition or a blueprint for a futurist kind of approach.”
Rakowitz’s thought-provoking work straddles the realms of contemporary art, politics and society. Art, for Rakowitz, serves as a means to foster public debate. He is best known for his conceptual art which challenges perceptions of social and historical topics.
He first came to prominence in the late Nineties thanks to with his ongoing series “paraSITE” inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior vents of a building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system, which heats and inflates the structure.
Rakowitz is the 2020 winner of the Nasher Prize for Sculpture. In a statement, Jeremy Strict, director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, said Rakowitz “wrestles in unique and revelatory ways with many of the complex questions of history, heritage and identity that are so much at the forefront of contemporary culture and politics.”