Beneath the Date Palms
About the Artist
Michael Rakowitz is an artist living and working in Chicago. His work has appeared in venues including dOCUMENTA 13 (Kassel, Germany), MoMA PS1 (Long Island City, New York), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (North Adams), Castello di Rivoli (Italy), the Biennale of Sydney, the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennials, Sharjah Biennial 8 (United Arab Emirates), Tirana Biennale (Albania), the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial (New York), and transmediale.05 (Berlin). Rakowitz has had solo projects and exhibitions with Creative Time (New York), Tate Modern (London), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Lombard Freid Gallery (New York), Galerie Barbara Wien (Berlin), Rhona Hoffman Gallery (Chicago), and Kunstraum Innsbruck (Switzerland). In 2018, he received the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and was awarded the Fourth Plinth commission in London’s Trafalgar Square, on view through 2020. A traveling survey of Rakowitz’s work was recently on view at Whitechapel Gallery in London through August 2019. Rakowitz is professor of art theory and practice at Northwestern University.
About the Artwork
Michael Rakowitz’s ongoing project The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist focuses on reconstructing artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq, some of which have since resurfaced in major collections in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2015, the Islamic State destroyed numerous Iraqi heritage sites, including the Northwest Palace of Nimrud. Beneath the Date Palms replicates Room F of the palace at Pan Pacific Park with detailed reliefs and an outdoor banquet space for locals. Rakowitz invites LA's Iraqi community, including veterans, to use dates for special meals on-site. Iraqi dates were once considered the best in the world, with the date industry serving as the country’s second-largest export. Dates are now widely available in the United States, with California being the country’s largest producer. However, the U.S. date industry can be traced to seeds originating in Iraq; the date is yet another symbol of the fraught history between the United States and Middle Eastern nation.