Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) is an artist based in Chicago. In 1998 he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. His work has appeared in venues worldwide including dOCUMENTA (13), P.S.1, MoMA, MassMOCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Lombard Freid Projects in New York, Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea in Torino, and Stadtturmgalerie/Kunstraum Innsbruck.
His public project, Return, was presented by Creative Time in New York in 2006. He is the recipient of a 2012 Tiffany Foundation Award; a 2008 Creative Capital Grant; a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award; a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures; the 2003 Dena Foundation Award, and the 2002 Design 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO. His work features in major private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Van Abbemuseum, Endhoven, Netherlands; The British Museum; Kabul National Museum, Afghanistan; and UNESCO, Paris. His solo exhibition, The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own was on view at Tate Modern in London in 2010. A new commission for SALT in Istanbul premiered in November 2011. Rakowitz was commissioned by Creative Time in 2011 for his project, Spoils, a culinary intervention at New York City’s Park Avenue restaurant that invited diners to eat off of plates looted from Saddam Hussein’s palaces. The project culminated in the repatriation of the former Iraqi President’s flatware to the Republic of Iraq at the behest of current Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki on December 15, 2011—the date Coalition Forces left Iraq. In 2012, his Enemy Kitchen food truck served Iraqi food to Chicago’s hungry public, served by veterans of the Iraq War working under Iraqi refugee chefs, and will soon return to the streets. Another recent project, The Breakup, was first presented by Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem in October 2010, and was exhibited at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago in 2014. Rakowitz is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.