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Architectural Digest Middle East

Michael Rakowitz, The flesh is yours, the bones are ours (detail), 2015

Several artworks have made Michael Rakowitz’s a household name, like The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, a modern-day replica of the Sumerian winged bull which was unveiled atop the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2018, or Spoils, a culinary intervention in New York that featured Iraqi dishes served on looted plates from Saddam Hussein’s palaces (Rakowitz bought the tableware on eBay, his favourite ‘search engine’). Whatever piece of his you may have come across, it’s likely that it touched on a topical social, cultural or political issue. It’s also likely that it made you stop to think.

Rakowitz’s installations involve extensive research and investigation, and touch on conflicts and the destruction of material heritage. From the condemned dwellings of an Aboriginal community in Sydney to the destruction of sixth-century statues by the Taliban and the theft and destruction of thousands of archaeological artefacts in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion, the artist’s work is always serious, although humour often plays a supporting role. Another great example is his 10-part radio series, which was broadcast in Palestine and mapped the rise of pan-Arabism against the simultaneous decline of the Beatles. 

And now, for the first time, the Iraqi-American will debut his first solo show in the Middle East and Asia. Organised by Whitechapel Gallery and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in collaboration with Art Jameel, the major survey exhibition will feature his most significant projects from the past 20 years. The eight multifaceted installations, which will include sculpture, drawing, film, sound and photography, will draw on architecture, cultural artefacts, cuisine and geopolitics. Spanning two floors at the Jameel Arts Centre, the exhibition is curated by Iwona Blazwick and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with Habda Rashid, Marianna Vecellio and Art Jameel’s Nora Razian.

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