Michael Rakowitz

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    Michael Rakowitz The invisible enemy should not exist (Northwest palace of Nimrud, Room N), 2018 (detail), 13 Reliefs: Middle Eastern packaging and newspapers, glue, cardboard, wood, dims variable. Courtesy of the artist.

4 Jun – 25 Aug 2019

Galleries 1, 8 & 9

Monday Closed
Tuesday 11am–6pm
Wednesday 11am–6pm
Thursday 11am–9pm
Friday 11am–9pm
Saturday 11am–6pm
Sunday 11am–6pm

Michael Rakowitz

4 June – 25 August 2019

Standing on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth is a human headed winged bull reconstructed from an Assyrian statue by American-Iraqi artist Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973). Sculptor, detective and occasional chef, he takes his cue from historic buildings and artefacts to create enthralling environments.

Rakowitz’s first survey show begins with Dull Roar (2005) an inflatable tower block inspired by a 1950s high rise estate in Missouri that aspired to end poverty but ended in demolition. Opposite this poignant monument stands an Aboriginal community’s response to poor housing; working with the artist they recycled their derelict homes into a model of Tatlin’s Tower.

Creativity from destruction also characterises What Dust Will Rise (2012). Working with Afghan artisans, Rakowitz honours Jewish and German libraries destroyed in World War II by carving stone books from the ruins of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Recouping other lost histories, he uses ephemera from The Beatles in The Break-Up (2010) to parallel two unrealised dreams: the group’s plan to play in Jerusalem and peace in the Middle East. A flotilla of plaster casts created by Armenian craftsmen in 1900s Istanbul
celebrates their artistry while revealing their dark fate; brightly coloured date syrup cans are used to recreate ancient artefacts destroyed or looted after the US Iraq invasion; and an American toy soldier features as the hero of Rakowitz’s film about Iraq’s Mosul Museum. The show ends with a flying installation of buildings imagined by the people of Budapest and their visions of a hopeful future.


Related events

Fourth Plinth-min

Michael Rakowitz in Conversation

Thu 6 Jun, 7pm
£9.50/£7.50 concs

Director of Whitechapel Gallery Iwona Blazwick joins Michael Rakowitz in conversation to discuss his work and ideas.

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Michael Rakowitz: (G)hosting

Sat 6 Jul, 2.30pm
£9.50/£7.50 concs

An afternoon of discussions exploring concepts of history, cultural heritage, appropriation and postcolonial displacements. With Michael Rakowitz, Gareth Brereton and Eleanor Robson.

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Michael Rakowitz: Breakups

Thu 18 Jul, 7pm
£9.50/£7.50 concs

Fascinated with The Beatles, Michael  Rakowitz revisits his 2010 project ‘The Breakup’, in conversation with historian Mark Lewisohn.

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Find out more

Read the press release

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli – Torino

Supported by:

Exhibition circle:
Dena Foundation
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Elie Khouri
Jane Lombard Gallery
Shelby White

Education programme:
The season’s education and community programmes are generously supported by the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme, one of London’s foremost public sculpture sites and home to Michael Rakowitz’s The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist through March 2020

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